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Full text of "Toscanelli and Columbus. The letter and chart of Toscanelli on the route to the Indies by way of the west, sent in 1474 to the Portuguese Fernam Martins, and later on to Christopher Columbus; a critical study on the authenticity and value of these documents and the sources of the cosmographical ideas of Columbus, followed by the various texts of the letter"

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Gift of 

James Mussatti 

























First Secretary of the United States^fy^assy at Paris; Vice- President of the 

Society of Americanist* of Paris, etc. 









The English edition of this work, which I now give 
to the public, differs in many respects from the French 
edition. Several new chapters have been added, and 
important alterations and amplifications made. I 
have enlarged considerably on the personal r61e of 
Columbus in the fraud I seek to unveil, and the 
portion of the work bearing on the map has been 
both recast and extended. This part has been 
further completed by a new table for the under- 
standing of the measurements attributed to Toscanelli 
in a form at once clearer and more detailed, and 
by a hypothetical restoration of the famous map 
which is supposed to have played so famous a part 
in the scheme which led to the discovery of America. 
The notes have also been increased and amended, 
while a great number of entirely new ones, in- 
cluding some of the most important, have been added. 
Finally, additional Appendices accompany the work. 
One gives, after the Raecolta Colombiana, a transcrip- 
tion of the facsimile of the Latin text of the letter to 


Martins ; in others an attempt is made to elucidate 
and illustrate the geographical notion which the letter 
to Martins and its accompanying map are intended to 

In the Preface to the French edition, I have said 
what was due to my friend M. de la Rosa, to whom 
should be credited the first idea of this book, and to 
M. Sumien, who has favoured me with a valuable 
critical work on the Latin text of the famous letter, 
a work which I again reproduce in an English garb 
in the present edition. In the preparation of this 
Knglish edition, I have contracted further obliga- 
tions which it is a pleasure to me to acknowledge. 
To Mr James Fitzmaurice- Kelly, the well-known 
writer and profound Spanish scholar, who was the 
firat to make known my work in England, I am 
indebted for the translation of the Spanish version 
of the letter. No one could more ably acquit himself 
of that tank than the learned Irishman to whom the 
worUl owe* the most admirable Life of Cervantes, and 
th' *hort liitftory of Spanish Literature, which is con- 
w\*w\ l/y all scholars the standard work on that 
why**.! in the Knglish tongue. 

io $fo'. Kev, W. H. Kent, the scholarly son of 

y »'h'/U9\y father, Mr Charles Kent, I owe the 

t***y4*h'th ot th*- Latin text of the same letter. Mr 

f:»;': h '-thutUy, who has long interested himself 

<4> / sh 'iwWs, has given me many valuable sugges- 


tions, which I was glad to put to good use. In one 
of the Appendices will be found a letter from him 
which is very suggestive. 

In the last place I mention Mr Victor Collins, to 
whom I feel more obliged than I can express. He has 
revised my text, read my proofs, translated the Italian 
text of the letter, and taken charge of all the details 
connected with the printing and publishing of this 
book. Under these headings I have contracted 
towards him obligations which all my friendship can 
scarcely repay. To him, and to all those I have 
named, I offer my sincerest thanks and gratitude. 

Henry Vignaud. 

United States Embassy, 

Paris, 30M March 1902. 






I. — The Letter Itself 

I. The Original Latin Text . 

a. Facsimile Reproductions 

b. Copies and Reproductions 
II. The Italian Text . 

III. The Spanish Version of Las Casas 

IV. Spanish Version in the City Archives of Seville 
V. Spanish Version of Barcia and of Navarrete 

VI. English Translations 
VII. French Translations 

II.— Other Sources of Information 

III.— Bibliography .... 









Advice attributed to Toscanelli as to the Route to 

the Indies by the West 

I. Canon Martins' Request ..... 

II. Toscanelli's Reply ...... 

Notes.— \. The Marco Polo of Dom Pedro. 5. The 
Great Khan. 6. Cathay. 7. Zaiton. 9. Quinsay. 10. 
Mangi. 11. Antilia. 12. Cipangu. 





III. Importance of this Correspondence if Authentic . . 27 

Note, — 14. Toscanelli, supposed inspirer of Colum- 

IV. Whence came the Correspondence .... 29 
V. Supposed Relations between Columbus and Toscanelli . 31 

Notes. — 20. Ha Dias. 21-22. Date of Columbus' 
supposed relations with Toscanelli. 


Reasons for doubting the Genuineness of the alleged 
Correspondence of Toscanelli with Martins and 

I. The Texts have disappeared ..... 36 

II. The Letter to Martins is unknown to the Portuguese 36 

III. Martins is an absolutely unknown Person . . 38 

Notes. — 23. No Canon of that name. 24. Martins 
and Roriz. 

IV. Toscanelli's Plan is unknown in Italy 39 

Notes.— 25. Duke Hercules. 26-38. Contemporaries 
of Toscanelli. 

V. The Publication in the Htstorie of Toscanelli's Letters 

(i57i) -43 

VI. Forged Statement of Egnatio Danti (1571-1572) • • 44 

Notes. — 39. La sfera of Sacrobosco. 40-41. Extracts 
from the same. 43. Remark on the subject. 44. Signor 
Peragallo's conclusions. 

VII. Toscanelli's Correspondence unknown to Columbus . . 47 

Notes. — 45-49. Quotations from Las Casas and the 
Htstorie. 50. Alleged reminiscence of Toscanelli's 


Reasons for doubting that the Letter to Martins was 

written in 1474 

I. The Question of the Route to the Indies was not yet 

raised in 1474 ...... 52 


II. Before Joao II ihe Portuguese only sought the India of 
Prester John ...... 

Notts. — 52. MM. Harrisse, Fiske, Raven stein, 
Beazley. 56. The India of Africa. 

III. Proof from Prince Henry's Acts .... 

Notc.~<fl. Prester John. 

IV. Proof by the Bull of I4S4 

Note.—d\. True meaning of the concessions granted 
by the BulL 
V. Proof by the Treaty of 1479 ..... 
Notes.— £2-63. The Treaty of 1479. 
VI. Error respecting the Spice Trade .... 
VII. Alfonso's Political Combinations .... 
VIII. Curious Geographical Error ..... 
Note. — 65. Mongol denominations. 
IX. Origin of the Hypothesis as to the possibility of a 
Passage to India by the West .... 
Notes. — 66. Aristotle's opinion. 67-69. Eratosthenes, 
Posidonius, Seneca. 70-71. Strabo on Eratosthenes' 
measurements. 7475- Posidonius' and Seneca's calcu- 

X. The Letter to Martins 
Marinus of Tyre 
Notes.— 76-77. Marinus of Tyre. 80. The Portuguese 
and the Italian Cartographers. 

the System of 


Columbus' Cosmographical Ideas are identical with 
those expressed in the letter attributed to 

I. Columbus' Measurement of the Earth : Alfragan. 

Notts.— 83-86. Ptolemy's degree. 87. Alfragan. 88. 
Joseph. 89. Observations made by Columbus. 91. 
Alfragan's Mile and Measurement of the Globe. 92- 
93. Smallness of the Earth. 
II. The Unknown Maritime Space ; Esdras 

Notes. — 94. The verses of Esdras. 95. Opinions of 
Esdras, d'Ailly, and Columbus on the small extent of 
the Sea. 


III. Extension of Asia Eastward ; Marinus of Tyre 

Notes. — 98-99. Limits of the known World according 
to Marinus of Tyre and Columbus. 

IV. Origin of the Cosmographical Ideas of Columbus : 

Toscanelli's Correspondence had nothing: to do with it. 
Notes. — 102-104. Columbus' Cosmographical Ideas 
come from the Imago Mundi. 105. His Geographical 
Notions come from Marco Polo. 
V. The Cosmography of the Letter to Martins is borrowed 
from Columbus ...... 

VI. Columbus' Cosmographical System is Posterior to his 
Discovery ....... 

Notes.— 107-108. The Imago Mundi. 

VII. A Re'sum^: The Letter to Martins, which reproduces the 

Ideas of Columbus, is subsequent to the discovery of 

the New World, since, at that period, Columbus had no 

scientific theory ...... 


Possible Motives for the Fraud. 

I. Necessity of a Motive for the Suspected Fraud 
II, The Pilot who may have informed Columbus 

III. The Story of the Pilot, so far as we know it 

Notes. — in. Oviedo, 112. Las Casas. 
Gdmara. 114. Gascilaso. 115. Other authorities. 
Date. 117. The Pilot's name. 

IV. Examination of the Sources of the Story 

Notes. — 124-125. Authors who believe in the story. 
126-12S. Authors who reject it. 129. Spanish and 
Portuguese Writers. 

V. Oviedo 

VI. Las Casas . 

AMu.— 135-140. Extracts from Las Casas. 
VII. G6mara ....... 

Notes. — 141. Extract from G6mara. 144. Perez and 



VIII. Garcilaso ....... 129 

IX. Ferdinand Columbus . . . • . 130 

X. The Story of the Pilot is probably true . . .132 

XI. The Council of the Indies knew the Story of the 

Pilot ........ 134 


Possible Authors and Probable Author. of the 


I. The Letters of Toscanelli come from Las Casas alone ; 

the Historie give them from him .... 139 

II. Papers and Documents in Las Casas* Possession . 141 

III. The Source of Las Casas* Documents . . .142 

Note. — 155. The Papers of Columbus. 

IV. The Forger was not Columbus . . . .147 

Note. — 157. Did Columbus copy the Letter to 
Martins ? 

V. It was not Ferdinand Columbus .152 

VI. The Forger is probably Bartholomew Columbus 153 

VII. Probable Complicity of Las Casas . .156 

VIII. Probable Date of the Fraud . .... 158 

IX. The Giving of the Documents to Las Casas 161 

X. Maria de Toledo ...... 162 

XI. Don Luis Col6n probably gave the Documents to Las 

Casas . ...... 163 

Notes. — 168. Don Luis and the Columbus Manu- 
scripts. 169. His share in the publication of the 



I.— Sources ....... 171 

II.— Attempts at Reconstruction \ 175 

III. — Various References ..... 176 




Attempt to Reconstruct Toscanelli's Map 

I. Cartographic Sources of the Map . 
II. Behaim's Globe 

Note, — 172. The Globe of Behaim. 

III. The Map of Fra Mauro 

IV. The Catalan Map . 
V. The Projection of the Map 

VI. The Division into Spaces 
VII. Toscanelli's Degree 
VIII. The Standard of 67I miles to the Degree 
IX. The Standard of 66J miles to the Degree 
X. The Standard of 62$ miles to the Degree 
XL The Standard of 56J miles to the Degree 
XII. Toscanelli's Mile . 

XIII. Toscanelli's Globe . 

XIV. The Geographical Conception represented by the so- 

called Toscanelli Map belonged to Marinus of 

x yrc ....... 

XV. Toscanelli's Islands : Antilia .... 

Note, — 198. Position of Antilia. 

XVI. Cipangu ....... 

Notes, — 205. Position of Cipangu. 206. Cipangu 
identified with Cuba and Hayti. 

XVII. Other Islands ...... 

XVIII. The Asiatic Coast ...... 

Notes, — 209. The search for Asia. 210. The map of 
Bartholomew Columbus. 
XIX. The Western Coast ...... 

XX. Rdsumd: The so-called Toscanelli Map could teach 
nothing to the Portuguese .... 














Columbus' Road-Map 

I. A Map existed which Las Casas thought was Tos- 
canelli's ....... 



11. Was the so-called Toscanelli Map the Road-Map of 
Columbus ) ..... . 

III. Columbus does not say his Road-Map was Tosca- 


Note. — 218. Columbus' words on the Map. 

IV. The Road-Map of Columbus denoted Islands which 

could not be known to Toscanelli 
Note. — 214. Columbus' hesitation as to his course. 
V. The Road-Map of Columbus was based on information 

he had received from a Pilot . . . 

VI. Pinzon appears to have possessed the same information 

as Columbus ..... 

VII. The so-called Toscanelli Map was not the Road-Map of 
Columbus ...... 

VIII. The so-called Toscanelli Map was, like the Letter I 
Martins, Apocryphal . 
IX. The Road-Map of Columbus showed the Discoveries 
of the Anonymous Pilot and represented the Cosmo- 
graphical Ideas of Columbus 


I. Summing up ..... . 

I. Facts on which rests the belief in the authentic 
of the Documents .... 
II. Facts which tend to show that the Corresponder 
attributed to Toscanelli is apocryphal 
III. Facts which may explain the Fraud 
IV. Unlikelihood of the Correspondence attributed 

Toscanelli ..... 
V. Various objection* .... 

II. Columbus' Share in the Deceit. 

I. Columbus could not be ignorant of the Fraud, yet he 
never mentioned the Spurious Documents 

• •• 



II. Possible Explanation of his Attitude 
HI. Unexplained Points 
IV. Columbus is not blameless in the matter 
V. Columbus' Tergiversations 
VI. The True Beginnings of Columbus 
VII. The Real Origin and Object of Columbus 
Scheme . 

VIII. Pretended Scientific Preparation of Columbus 
IX. The Documents attributed to Toscanelli 

HI, Conclusions Suggested 











Notts*— 3. Phisicus — physician. 6. The land of 
nplciiM. 7. By Guinea. 13. Westward. 18. The 
it might lines marked lengthwise and transversely. 
23, Zttlton. 23. Great Kaan. 28. The Ambassador who 
U alleged to have informed Toscanelli. 30. The Post- 
uriptum, 31. Ptr occidtntem in directo. 33, 34, 35. 
Quinimy. 37. A third part of the whole sphere. 38. 
Mangi. 40. Antilia. 41. Sypangu. 


Tta Hum* letter. Latin Text from the Colombina, with a 

t orrrjAtui Text and Notes ..... 293 


'\\m t'mtiM letter. Spanish Version of Las Casas, with an 

P,n%\*h Translation ...... 305 

t^tu* Ia*i** Italian Version, with English Translation . .311 


} v^-tuuM'* I>huy* U) Columbus, Texts and Translations. 
)• nut J^u* ...... 





Some Primary Considerations on the Nature, Origin, and Mean- 
ing of the So-called Second Letter of ToscanellL Letter 
from Mr John B. Shipley ..... 327 


Enlarged Facsimile of the Latin Text of the Letter of 1474. 
Transcription of this Letter as Deciphered by M. de Lollis . 337 


Enlarged Facsimile of Specimens of Writing of Christopher 

and Bartholomew Columbus ..... 339 

Table for Understanding the Hypotheses on the Measurement 

of the Earth attributed to Toscanelli .... 341 


Attempt to Explain, after the Letter to Martins, and the Notions 

of Columbus, the Map attributed to Toscanelli 345 

Index ........ 349 

Facsimile of the Letter (Appendix G). 

Transcription of the Letter (Appendix G). 

Facsimile of Writing of Christopher and Bartholo- 
mew Columbus (Appendix H). 

Table for the Understanding of Measurements 
(Appendix I). 



The question of the authenticity of the famous letter 
a learned Florentine is supposed to have sent to 
Columbus, some fifteen or eighteen years before the 
latter made his wonderful discovery, giving him 
advice and some information to aid him in his 
undertaking, has a far wider scope than the mere 
determination of the historical value of a document 
which has hitherto remained unchallenged. 

It means, in truth, no less than to ascertain if the 
greatest event in the world's history — the sudden 
revelation of the existence of one half of the globe 
hitherto unknown — was in reality due to researches 
based on scientific data, the truth of which has been 
proved by the result. 

This question, to which a negative reply cannot 
be given without our placing ourselves in opposition 
to long established opinion, upon which have been 
formed all our mental conceptions of the subject, 
compels us, in fact, to investigate whether the history 


of Columbus, such as it has been told by Las Casas 
and Ferdinand Columbus, and such as it has been 
accepted for four centuries, does not rest, in at least 
one essential particular, upon an error, which, if it 
were demonstrated, would radically change our belief 
in the causes which led to the discovery of America. 

There is nothing harder to overturn than an 
opinion which has in its favour time and numbers. 
The belief that Columbus was a man who had, as 
the result of his own unaided studies and investiga- 
tions, arrived at the conclusion he should find Asia 
to the west has become so embedded in history, and 
is supported by evidence at once so ancient and 
respectable, that it seems something little short of 
sacreligious to cast a doubt thereon, and as though 
a storm threatened to overwhelm the bold innovator. 

Nevertheless it must be said that the more the 
early doings of Columbus are studied the less justified 
appears to be this belief. As a result of reading and 
re-reading the documents, of comparing facts with 
one another, of studying dates, of weighing the 
assertions of Columbus himself, and of those of his 
contemporaries referring to him, one ends by suspect- 
ing that perhaps things did not happen as he states, 
and by asking ourselves whether all the theoretical 
reasoning we are informed was the mainspring of his 
undertaking, and consequently the cause of his great 
discovery, was not invented after the event. 


Were we blindly to accept the evidence of 
Columbus' contemporaries and that of the succeed- 
ing generation, we should not be justified in raising 
these doubts. All, with the solitary exception oT 
G6mara, whose authority is, however, unfortunately 
very questionable, seek to show that the inception of 
the original ideas of the discoverer of the New World 
had a scientific character. But true criticism is some- 
times justly mistrustful of the evidence of contempo- 
raries, for too frequently it is both insincere and 
partial. If from them comes all our true informa- 
tion, it is no less a fact that from them also come 
all those errors it is most difficult to correct after- 
wards. The chronicler who, in the silence of his 
study, records the events of his day seldom resists 
the temptation to give them a certain bias. He 
clothes history and embellishes it for posterity. He 
arranges affairs as he would have had them happen. 
History, as it is given by contemporaries, especially 
when they think their statements are safe from all 
investigation, is nearly always thus arranged, and it 
is not the least hard task of the critic to pick out the 
truth lying hid beneath these errors or deliberate 

Las Casas, who was an honest man, and who 
wrote a book without which we should but im- 
perfectly know the history of the discovery of 
America, has himself nevertheless arranged matters, 


so far as Columbus is concerned, as he considered 
they should have occurred. Most of the legends and 
tales from which have been fabricated the story of the 
youth of the Great Navigator come from him rather 
than, as has been generally supposed, from Ferdinand 
Columbus. Thanks to recent critical works, more 
particularly to those of Mr Harrisse, many of these 
legends are now destroyed and no longer find a place 
in any serious work. But, if, by good fortune, there 
had not been discovered buried deep amid the private 
records of Italian notaries the proofs of their false- 
hood, they would still disfigure the pages of not a few 
books of history. No one any longer believes that 
Columbus was born in 1 436, as was formerly 
supposed ; that he was of noble descent ; that he 
reckoned admirals in his family ; that he studied at 
the University of Pavia, and that he fought under 
King Rene. It is now possible to go further and 
show that he was not born any time between 1446 
and 1451 as late investigations seem to have estab- 
lished, but actually in 1451 itself; that he only 
arrived in Portugal towards the end of 1476 or the 
beginning of 1477; that he had but little travelled, 
and that he never made proposals to Genoa, Venice, 
England and France. 

These corrections, important though they may 
be, change in nothing, it is true, the essential history 
of the causes which led to the discovery of the New 



World as it is related to us. But it would be different 
were it demonstrated that the letter to Martins is 
apocryphal ; that Columbus never corresponded with 
Toscanelli ; and that, consequently, he could not have 
borrowed from that scholar any of the cosmographical 
and geographical notions which are supposed to have 
led him to his great discovery. In that case we 
should have to dismiss as false all that we have 
hitherto believed as to the circumstances which 
determined Columbus to undertake the discovery 
of the Indies; and these new corrections, added to 
those already made, might well leave standing very 
little of the history of the early days of the lucky 
Genoese, such at least as tradition has made it, and 
as it has been everywhere accepted. 

The examination of the question, whose solution 
may have from an historical point of view the grave 
consequences just indicated, is the object of the 
present work. 

It would be presumptuous to assert that we give 
that solution here ; but the important questions raised 
by this point of history are now stated in such a 
manner as renders it impossible any longer to ignore 
or withdraw them. The inquiry begun by us will 
be continued and brought to a successful issue by 
others. We must learn if for four centuries we have 
not been the dupes of a fraud which has hidden from 
us the real causes that led to the greatest event in 


the history of the world. We must ascertair 

the place we have assigned to Toscan 

Columbus is the one they really ought tc 

What eta be at once affirmed is that the 1 

th#! immediate causes leading to the disc 

A rn'Ticii, as it was understood by Humb 

Hilton Irving, and as it is still believi 

l part of the authors of our time, h 

, n written. 

it undertaking falls not to us to 
-vill carry it through. 






It is a letter dated Florence 2$ June 1474- It purports to 
have been written by Paolo Toscanelli, a learned physician and 
astronomer of Florence, and addressed to a certain Portuguese 
canon, named Fernam Marlins, in answer to a request for infor- 
mation which King Alfonso V had instructed him to obtain. 
There exist a Latin text, which is believed to be a copy of the 
original, and two ancient versions, one in Spanish and the other 
in Italian. 

I. — The Original Latin Text. 

This text was only discovered and published in 1871. During 
a voyage made that year in Spain, Mr Harrisse visited the 
renowned Seville Library where is preserved the valuable collec- 
tion of books made by Ferdinand Columbus, and known as the 
Colombina. The obliging custodian, Don Jose Fernandez y 
Velasco, placed in his hands one of the gems of the collection, 
namely, a copy of the 1477 edition of the Historia Rerum Vbiqut 
Gestarutn of /Eneas Sylvius (Pope Pius II), which had belonged 
to Columbus, who had written on its margins a great many notes 
and extracts. These annotations were already known. But, 


the precious volume, Mr Harrisse discovered 
°Oe rt as Hank pages contained the transcription or a Latin 
1) he recognised the text, mentioned by Las Casas 
t Columbus, of the letter to Martins of 1474, which 
' b supposed to have sent to Columbus, and which 
1 known only by the Italian version in the HUtorie and 
version of Las Casas. Mr Harrisse immediately 
e document, with a facsimile, and it appeared in one 
** *e volume* of the collection of the Bibliophiles of Seville. 

**• discovery and publication rendered a distinguished 
ttr "Ke to historical research and deserved to have been welcomed 
*W» gratitude by the Republic of Letters. But Mr Harrisse 
"perienced the lot of many other discoverers. It was alleged 
that what he had found was already known, and, furthermore, 
that the document had been pointed out to him by the librarian 
0* the Colom btna. These remarks appear to have escaped for 
•otoe time the attention of Mr Harrisse. But, in 1873, the 
ftewdent of the Geographical Society of Paris, M. D'Avezac, 
having mentioned in his work, Canevas ckronofogique de la vie 
de OJomb (Paris, 1873, p. 50, note 4), that the fortunate dis- 
covery of this document was due to the learned American critic, 
some one, claiming to be well informed, made certain observa- 
tion* to him on the subject, with the result that he withdrew this 
statement, and, at the same time, declared it had been demon- 
itraUd to him that the discovery was due to the librarian of the 
Colombina, the too modest Don Jose Fernandez y Velasco (Le 
Livrt de Ferdinand Colontb, Paris, 1873, pp. 45 and 46). There- 
upon, Mr Harrisse called on the latter to explain himself, and 
received from him the following remarkable reply : that for years 
he had known the Latin text of Toscanelli's letter, but had 
attached no importance to it, as he had thought the original was 
in Italian ! Coming from a librarian of the Colombina such a 
ply was pitiful. How, indeed, can it be admitted that the 


guardian of this famous collection ignored that the letter of 
Toscanelti was written in Latin when Ferdinand Columbus says 
so, when Las Casas says so, when Barcia says so, and that all the 
Columbists were searching everywhere for that text I It must 
be one of two things: either this scholar really did not know 
that Paul, the physician (Paulas physuus), of the letter in 
question was Toscanelli, or he was a nervous man who dared not 
maintain against a critic of Mr Harrisse's calibre, whose bite on 
occasion is severe, that he knew the true character of the 

Whichever it may be, Mr Harrisse considered himself 
satisfied ; he published an extract from the note of the Colom- 
bina's librarian in his reply to M. D'Avezac (Uhistotre de Chris- 
tophe Calami attribute A son fiis Fernand, Paris, 1875, pp. 57-58), 
and considered the affair was ended. But it was not so. 

In 1880, the President of the Norman Geographical Society, 
M. Gravier, had occasion to mention Toscanelli in his Memoir, 
Les Normands sur la route des dudes (Rouen, 1880, p. 27) ; in a 
note he added that, before Mr Harrisse, the Cotnte de Paris had 
bad Toscanelli's letter copied at the Colombina, and quoted as his 
authority a letter communicated by M. D'Avezac, who clearly 
persisted in believing that priority for the discovery of the true 
character of the document belonged to the librarian of the Colom- 
bina. He had, in fact, written to M. Uzielli, in March 1874, that 
he knew from "undoubted and direct evidence" a copy of 
ToscanelJi's letter had been "made in December 1858 from 
Columbus' autography," and this had " settled his convictions as 
to the discovery of this document" (Toseatteiti, No. 1, January 
1893, p. 7), Evidently he refers to the copy made for the Comte 
de Paris, the same in fact to which M. Gravier alludes. 

Desiring to clear up fully this small matter, I wrote to M. 
Gravier begging he would make me acquainted with the letter to 
which he had referred. He very kindly immediately replied, and 


informed me that M. D'Avezac had read the letter in question to 
him, and had not left him a copy ; but that it would probably 
be found among that scholar's papers, which were now in the 
hands of his grandson, M. de Fr6mery, who doubtless would be 
pleased to communicate it to me. M. de Fr^mery, to whom I 
then wrote, was in fact most obliging. Not being able to lay his 
hand upon the letter, he took the trouble to ask M. Gravier for 
such indications as would facilitate his search, and made a 
thorough hunt for the document. He did not succeed in finding 
it. The net result of all this correspondence was that the miss- 
ing letter was dated 1873, and had been written by a secretary of 
the Comte de Paris. 

I proposed pursuing this inquiry by addressing myself to the 
Duke of Orleans, who might have found among his papers some 
notes enabling him to say whether it was before Mr Harrisse's 
publication that the Comte de Paris had visited the Colombina, 
and whether, at that period, the Comte knew that the letter of 
Paulus physicus, in the volume of Pius II, was the original text 
in Latin of ToscanelH's letter ; but other occupations prevented 
me from carrying out my intention. The chief point after all 
was ascertained. Whether the librarian of the Colombina knew 
or did not know the real character of the letter copied upon the 
volume he had placed in Mr Harrisse's hands, it is certain he 
did not mention the fact to him. 

It is therefore to the author of the Biblioteca Americana 
Vetustissima that we are indebted for revealing and publishing 
this precious document. Still there would be some interest in 
clearly establishing the point, for, in 1893, the President of the 
Royal Geographical Society of London, Sir Clements Markham, 
repeated the opinion of M. D'Avezac and M. Gravier {The Journal 
of Columbus, etc., London, 1893, Hakluyt Society) ; this compelled 
Mr Harrisse to publish the correspondence mentioned above, 
thereby re-establishing the true facts of the case {Christophe 


Celomb et Toscanelli. Revue Critique, 9th October 1893). I 
ought to add that, notwithstanding all that has been said and 
printed on this subject, M. Simon de La Rosa, the compiler of 
the Catalogue of the Colombina Library {Catdlogn, vol. T., p. $3), 
M. Cesareo Fernandez Duro, the Perpetual Secretary of the 
Academy of History of Madrid (in a private letter), and M. Cesare 
de Lollis, the Secretary of the Royal Commission which published 
the Raccolta Colomhiana {Autograft di Christoforo Colombo, pre- 
face, p. xiii.), continue to consider Senor Velasco as the first 
discoverer of the Latin text in question. 

Mr Harrisse is of opinion that this text was written in the 
volume in the Colombina, where it now is, by Columbus himself 
{Fernand Colomb, etc., p. 89, and The Discovery, etc., p. 380). 
The author of the present work has some doubts on this point. 
See note 157. 

The Latin text of the Colombina, containing many abbrevia- 
tions often difficult to decipher, is not preceded by the covering 
note from Toscanelli to Columbus as given by Las Casas and the 
Historie. After the date comes a paragraph of a dozen lines 
generally known as the Post-Scriptum. Toscanelli's name is not 

(n) Facsimile Reproductions. 

Harrisse. — Don Fernando Colin historiador de su padre. Seville, 
1 87 1, in 410, p. 73, 

Raccolta Colombiana. — Part I., vol. III. : Autograft di Colombo, 
by Signor de Lollis. Rome, 1893, in fol. PI. LXIII. ; with 
Special Translation showing in different type where abbrevia- 
tions in the original have been printed in full. 

Part V., only volume : Vita e i tempi di P. dal P. Tbsca- 

nelli, by Signor G. Uzielii. Rome, 1894, PI. IIII., p. 570. 

Lazzaroni. — C/iristoforo Colombo. Milan, 1892, in 4to, p. 42. 


Bahatta. — Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, etc. Bull. Soc, Geogr. 
Italiana, vol. XI., Rome, 1898, p. 246. 

(£) Copies and Reproductions. 

Harrisse. — Biblioteca Americana Fetus tissima. Additions. 
Paris, 1877, pp. xv.-xviii. ; with the abbreviations. 

Fernand Colomb, 1882. Appendix VL, pp. 178-180, and 

The Discovery, Paris, 1892, pp. 381-384 ; with the abbrevia- 
tions in full. 

FiSKE. — The Discovery of America. New York, 1892, vol. II., 
Appendix A, pp. 572-578 ; with the abbreviations in full and 
the corresponding Italian text in parallel columns. 

Gafpabel. — Histoire de la dicouverte de I'Amerique. Paris, 1892, 
t. II., pp. 28 et Seq. 

Raccolta Colombiana. — Part V., only volume. (Toscanelli), 
Rome, 1894, pp. 571-572. Part I., vol. II., p. 364. Ibid., 
vol. III., PI. LXIII. 

Asensio. — Crimbal Col6n. . . . Barcelona, 1892, 2 vols., in fol., 
t. I., p. 250. 

II. — The Italian Text. 

This version, the only one that was known for a long time, 
first appeared in chapter viii. of the history of Columbus attri- 
buted to his son Ferdinand (Historic del S. D. Fernando Colombo, 
etc., Venice, 1571), a work, says the title, translated from the 
Spanish manuscript. It is therefore the translation of a trans- 
lation ; but, as it comes from the son of Columbus, who alone 
seems to have been acquainted with the Latin original, this 
circumstance gives it a value which has not been destroyed by 
the discovery of the primitive text. As in the Latin, Toscanelli 
is only mentioned by his Christian name, Paolo, It is preceded 
by a covering note from Toscanelli 10 Columbus, the original 


text of which has not yet been found. The Ptst-Scriptum is 
lengthened by a transposition, and the letter itself contains many 
interpolations and some suppressions. 

Reproductions. — Most of the modern works which reproduce 
this text either mutilate or arrange it. Even Signor de Lollis has 
not escaped this mania ; the text of this letter he gives in his 
Chris toforo Colombo, Milan, 1892, is treated in like facile style. 
An exact transcription, with numerous and learned notes, will be 
found in Ximenes : Del Veccfiio et nuovo gnomone fiorentino, 
Florence, 1757, in 4to, pp. Ixxxi.-xcvi. ; in Fiske : The Discovery of 
America, vo\. II., pp. 57l-578,and in the Raccolta Colombiana,vo\. 
on Toscanelli, pp. 574-575. 

III. — The Spanish Version of Las Casas. 

The version known under this name is not by Las Casas, 
who, in giving it in his Histtiria, etc., Madrid, 1875 (Book I., 
chap, ii., vol. I., pp. 91 et seg.), declares that he had it with 
other papers written by Columbus. Its origin is not known ; 
it differs, however, from the Latin text as well as from the 
Italian by several changes and some interpolations which Mr 
Harrisse (The Discovery, p. 3S1) thinks have been borrowed from 
Toscanelli'5 map, which also formed part of Columbus' papers, 
and which, like all the maps of the period, must have contained 
explanatory legends. 

This Spanish text, like the Italian, is preceded by the cover- 
ing note from Toscanelli to Columbus, and is followed by a 
second letter from the Florentine scholar to the great Genoese, 
Its source gives it some value. It is reproduced in the Raccolta 
Colombiana, vol. on Toscanelli, pp. 573-573- 

IV. — Spanish Version in the City Archives oy Seville. 
This version which has been published in the Documentos 


ineditos del Real Archivo de las Indias, t. XIX., p. 451 et seq., 
comes from the Archives of Seville. I do not know its source ; 
it appears to have been somewhat modernised and presents some 
variants with the other versions. 

V. — Spanish Version op Babcia and of Navarrete. 
Barcia made it on the Italian translation of the Historie, and 
published it, in 1749, in the first volume of his Historiadores, 
p. 5. Navarrete reproduced it in his collection of Viages, vol. 
II., p. I et seq. It is about the only version known in Spain, 
and Humboldt, unfortunately for htm, had seen no other, for 
it has led him into grave mistakes, into which Sir Clements 
Markham has also fallen. 

VI. — English Translations. 

Churchill. — 1732. — Collection of Voyages and Travels, etc. 
London, vol. II., pp. 567-569. 

This is an exact rendering of the Italian text. It has been 
reproduced in the Pinkerton Collection, London, 18 12. 
KetTELL.— 1827. — Personal narrative of the 1st voy. of Columbus. 
Boston, in 8vo, note I, p. 268. 

A translation from the Italian text. 
Bscher. — 1856. — The Landfall of Columbus. London, pp. 183- 


A translation from Barcia's Spanish text. 
Yule. — 1866. — Cathay, etc., London, vol. I., pp. cxcvi.-cxcvii. 

A partial translation, made on the Italian text. 
Harrisse. — 1892. — The Discovery, etc. Paris and ^London, pp. 


An excellent translation, made on the Latin text, which is 
printed opposite. 


FlSKE. — 1892. — T/ie Discwery, etc. Boston, vol. I., pp. 356 et seq. 

A good translation, made on the Latin text. 
Markham. — 1893- — The Journal of Ch. Columbus. Hakluyt 
Society, London, pp. 3-9. 
An excellent translation, made on the Latin, with notes. 
Payne. — 1892. — History of the New World, etc. London, vol. 
L, pp. 102-103. 

An exact translation from the Latin, with some notes. 
Bkownson. — 1890. — The Life of Ch. Columbus. Translated from 
the Italian of Tarducci, vol. T-, Ch. xi. 
A translation made on the Latin text. 

VII. — French Translations. 

Cotolendv. — 1681. — La vie de Cristofie Colomb . . . composfa 
par F. Colomb et traduite enfrancais. Paris, 1681, 2 vols, in 
!2mo, t. I., pp. 21-27. 

An inexact translation of the Italian text. 
BuACHE. — 1806. — Afemoire sur Antilia (Mdmoires de I'Institut, 
classe de litteYature, vol. VI., 1806), pp. 1-39. 

An incomplete and inexact translation from the Italian 
Urano. — 1824. — Histoire de Christ. Colomb. {Bossi's translation.) 
Paris, pp. 196-200. 

An incomplete and inexact translation from the Italian text. 
Gakfarel. — 1892. — Hist, de la dgcouverte de PAme'rique. Paris, 
vol. II., pp. 38-33. 

An exact translation, somewhat free, made on the Latin, 
which is reproduced in a note. 
MCLLEH, Eug. — 1879. — Hist, de la vie et des de'eouvertes de Christ. 
Colomb, par Fernand Colomb, traduction del'Italien. Paris, 
pp. 36-29. 
An incomplete and inexact translation. 


Belly, F. — 1867. — A travers rAtneriqite centrale. Paris, 2 vols, i 
8vo, vol. I., pp., 12-14. 

A translation of the Italian text. Several sad blunders 
disfigure this translation, which is as a whole made with great 


Las Casas. — 1552-1559. — Historia gencrdl de las Indias, etc. 

Madrid, 1875, Book I., ch. xii., vol. I., pp. 92-96. 
Ferdinand Columbus. — 1539-1571.— Historie, etc. Venice, ch. 

vii. and viii. 


XlMENES, Leonardo. — 1757. — Del Vecchio et ttuovo giiomone 
fiftrentinn^ Florence, in 4to, pp. Ixxiii.-xcviii. and passim. 

Barros e Vasconcellos. — 1758-1898. — Lettre a Messieurs les 
auteurs du Journal des Savatils sur la navigation des Portu- 
gais aux Indes orientales, par Jose Joaquim Soares de Barros 
e Vasconcellos, de I'Academie des sciences de Prusse, etc., 
rdimprimee en commemoration du centenaire de l'lnde 
(by Antonio de Portugal de Faria), Leghorn, typography of 
Raphael Giusti, 1898, in 8vo, p. 20. 

The author of this reproduction was of Barros' family, 
and gives a biographical notice of him at the end of the 

This letter, which first appeared in the old Journal des 
Savanls (January 1758), is a criticism of Ximenes' remarks 
on Toscanelli's letter. In these remarks the astronomer is 
considered as having pointed out to the Portuguese the road 
to the East Indies. Barros e Vasconcellos shows that Tosca- 
nelli was a stranger to this great event as well as to the 
inauguration of the spice trade. 



MuNOS. — 1 793. — Histdria del Nncvo Mundo. Madrid, vol. I., 


II., in 8vo, p. 




— Saggio storico apologetico della letleratura 



Genoa, 1778-1781, 6 vols, in Svo, 1st 


t. IL, pp 





-1781. — Storia della letleratura Italiana. 


of Florence iJ 

07, t. VI., part I., pp. 216 and 237. 

Bossi.— 1818 

— Vita diC Colombo. Milan, French edition, 


1824, pp 


34-»37. 3^3. 333-334. 337-343- 

Angelis. — i8a6. — 

Article ToscanclH in Biographic Vniverselle. 


d.) 1 

st and 2nd editions. Worthless. 

Baldelli. — 


-II Millione, vol. I., pp. Iv.-lxt. 


Irving. — 1828. — Life of Columbus. London, vol. I., 

Ch. vi. 



— Examen critique, etc. Paris, vol. ] 

■ PP- 


; vol. 

n.,p. 175. 



— Cosmos. Paris, vol. II., pp. 317, 325 



Lelewel. — 


-Geographic du moyen age. Brussels, vol. II., 

pp. 107 




— lies de VAfrique. Paris, 2nd part 





H ■:.- 

— Les Voyages d'Amcric Vespuce. Paris 






—Congrts des sciences gfographiques d'Anvers. 

Antwerp, vol. II., p. 3. 



-Canevas chrottologique de la vie de Colomb. 

Paris, in Svo, p. 50, note. 



~Le livre de Fcrnand Colomb. Paris, in Svo, 


■ 45. 4&- 



—Toscane/li, No. I, January 1893, pp. 4-7 

Harkissk. — 


-Don Fernando Colin, etc. Seville, 




Harrisse. — 1872. — Fernand Cofomb. Paris, pp. 88-90. 

Ibid. 1884. — Christophe Cofomb. Paris, vol. I., p. 328. 

Ibid. 1892. — The Discovery. Paris, pp. 378-385. 

Ibid. 1893- — Christophe Cofomb et Toscanelli. Paris, 1893, 

in 8vo, p. la. From the Revue critique, Oct. 


Fiske. — 1892. — The Discovery, etc. Boston, vol. I., pp. 355-376. 

Markham. — 1892, — Christopher Columbus. London, pp. 30-31. 

Ibid. 1893. — The Journal of Ch. Columbus. Hakluy 

Society. London, Introduction, pp. ii.-iv. 

Tardocci. — 1890. — The Life of Columbus. Detroit, vol. I., ch. vi. 

Winsor. — 1S89. — Narrative and Critical History of America. 

Boston, vol. I., p. 51 ; vol. II., pp. 30-31, 101. 

iBro. Christopher Columbus. Boston, pp. 7, 108-m. 

J. de La Gravi£re. — 1890. — Les Anglais, etc. Paris, vol. I., 


Baratta. — 1898. — Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli iumatore della 
Scoperto dell' America. (Bull. Soc. giogr. ital., Rome, series 
III., vol. XL, 1898, pp. 346-a55-) 



I. — Canon Martins' Request.— Long before 1474, 
says Humboldt, ToscanelH had suggested to the Portuguese 
Government the route Columbus followed. 1 This assertion, 
which is found under various forms in the works of 
responsible authors, 3 rests solely on a letter that a Florentine 
astronomer, Toscanelli, is supposed to have written to a 

1 Humboldt : Examen critique, vol. I., p. 227. A few lines above 
Humboldt says : " It remains uncertain which of the I wo, Columbus or 
Toscanelli, first saw the possibility of this new way open to the naviga- 
tion of India," p. 226. 

* " More than twenty years before the discovery of America by 
Columbus, the Portuguese were employed seeking a westward passage 
to reach the Indies" (Santarem, Recherches hutoriques sur Atneric 
Vespuce, pp. 240-241). 

" It is certain that even before U74 the Portuguese were thinking of 
reaching by sea the eastern shores of China and Japan " (Harrisse : Les 
Carte-Real, p. 23). — "The Portuguese were thinking for twenty years at 
least before Christopher Columbus' famous voyage of crossing the 
Atlantic Ocean westward" {Ibid., p. 40).— See also the same author's 
Chris/opAe Colomb, vol. I., p. 319. 

''The letter to Martfnez reveals the fact that as early as 1474 the 
notion that a westward route to the Indies had been suggested 1 
Alfonso V " (Fiske : The Discovery 0/ America, vol. I, p. 363). 


councillor of King Alfonso, recommending to that prince 
the route to the Indies by the west, a copy of which letter 
was found among the papers of Columbus. If the assertion 
be well founded, if King Alfonso really formed the design 
of reaching the Indies by crossing the Atlantic, and for 
this purpose consulted the celebrated Florentine astronomer, 
we are in presence of a fact which fills an important place 
in the sequence of ideas whose development led to the dis- 
covery of the New World, and one to which too much 
attention cannot be paid. 

In the terms of this famous letter a Lisbon Canon, 
Fernam Martins, 3 who entertained friendly relations with 
Toscanelli, and who filled an important personal post near 
King Alfonso V, had been commissioned by this monarch 
to obtain some information from his friend as to the possi- 
bility of reaching the East Indies by sailing to the west. 
We learn, by the letter, that this matter had already led to 
an exchange of views between Martins and ToscanelH, and 
that the latter had previously represented the western 
route to be much shorter than the one by the south-east 
But it would appear that the king, who desired to attempt 
the enterprise, was not sufficiently documented, and Martins, 
returning to the question, requested further information 
from his correspondent, who hastens to give it. 

II.— TOSCANELU'S REPLY. — The learned astronomer 
begins by observing that, though he well knows the 
practicability of the route he suggests is demonstrated by 
the sphericity of the earth, he will make the matter clearer 

a More frequently written Martinez, which is the Spanish form of the 
name ; Martins is the Portuguese form. 



i of a map, on which he has marked the coa; 
of Portugal and the islands whence one must sail directly 
west to the point of arrival, as also the route to follow, 
the distances to be covered, and the places where the 
ship may put in. 

The comments wherewith Toscanetli accompanies the 
map are short, not very explicit, but calculated to excite 
curiosity.* He dwells upon the wealth of the countries 
in the East to which the road he indicates should lead ; 
he calls attention to the great commercial activity of 
which the towns on the Asiatic coast are the centre, as 
also to the large numbers of ships and sailors, and the 

* The Marco Polo of Dom Pedro. — Although Marco Polo is not 
mentioned in [his letter, it is easy to see all, or nearly all, that is 
said therein of Eastern Asia comes from that traveller, whose account, 
although not yet published, circulated from hand to hand, and greatly 
occupied minds interested in distant countries. This remarkable 
account, which during the Fifteenth Century was in every mouth, 
and which had a powerful influence on the geographical movement 
of the period, was, it is alleged, well known to Alfonso V. In 1428, 
Alfonso's uncle, Dom Pedro, Duke of Coimbra, is said to have brought 
back from his voyages a copy received from the munificence of the 
Venitian Republic, which he gTeatly treasured. As bearing on this, 
let us mention that Oliveira Martins, who is by no means alone in 
stating this fact, quotes a passage from an official document, apparently 
of Alfonso V, wherein the story of this present to his uncle is con- 
firmed {Of jtihos de Joao J, p. 132, note). Nevertheless, we have not 
been able to find out the origin of this document, the source of which is 
not clearly indicated. Valentin Fernandez, who published a Portuguese 
translation of Marco Polo at Lisbon in 1502, says in his preface, 
addressed to King Manoel, that he has beard it related Dom Pedro 
brought back from Venice a manuscript of Marco Polo, believed to 
be in the Torre do Tombo. "If that be true," he adds, "your Majesty 
must know better than any one." The last phrase shows that 
Femindei had never seen Dom Pedro's manuscript, even the 
existence of which seemed to him doubtful. Contrary, therefore, to 


quantities of merchandise gathered in their harbours ; he 
mentions with praise the Great Khan, or King of 
Kings,* who rules over all the region, and whose resi- 
dence is chiefly in the Province of Cathay, 8 and he speaks 

what Oliveira Martins, Ulielli, and many more have said, it was 
not on that copy Fernandez made his translation. See UzieUi 
{TotcatuM ',■ Raccotta), p. t62. 

It has been said that some particulars in the letter to Martins 
were borrowed from the account of Nicolo di Conti, which might be 
known to Toscanelli. I see but one indication of this being so ; but 
Conti'* account was known at Lisbon by the partial translation Valentin 
Fernindez made of it into Portuguese in rjo:, in the same volume 
containing his version of Marco Polo. 

* This personage played a considerable r&le in the imagination of 
the early discoverers. In the very first lines of his log-book Columbus 
recalls, in the same expressions found in Toscanelli's letter, that he 
had informed the Catholic Kings about the Great Khan, or King of 
Kings, and about the embassies that potentate had sent to the Pope 
(Dlario, preamble). It is generally believed thai Ferdinand and Isabella 
allowed themselves to be persuaded by what he told them on this 
subject, and that they addressed a letter to the Great Khan, which 
Columbus undertook to deliver, and that he actually endeavoured 
to get it to its destination when he reached Cuba, which he took 
to be a portion of the Kingdom of Cathay (Diario, aist and 30th 
October 1492). See note 23 to the translation of the letter : 
Appendix A. 

* Cathay. — This name which appears here for the first time holds 
a great place in geographical history from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth 
Century. It appears to have been introduced into Europe by Jean Plan 
Carpin, and by the Drabantinc monk, Rubruquis, or Ruisbrock (1253), 
who attributed it to ancient China of which it was the Mongol name. 
According to Yule, Khitai was the appellation of a Tartar people who 
conquered the north-east of China in the Eleventh Century, and 
founded there an Empire that was long prosperous. The Mongol 
invasions of the Thirteenth Century put an end to this Empire ; but 

-wnc Khitai, corrupted into Cathay, stuck to China. M. Cordier 


with admiration of the City of Zayton, 7 where every year 
a hundred vessels are laden with pepper, not to mention 
other cargoes. 

The most important part of this letter is the Post- 
scriptum,* which indicates the distance to be traversed 
going from Portugal to the land of spices. From Lisbon to 

derives ihc name from the Kitan Tartar dynasty, which comes to about 
the same thing. (See Yule, Cathay, vol. I., pp. cxvi. tt teg., and his 
Marco Polo, vol. I., Introduction, pp. n and 15. See also Cordier: 
Alia! Catalan, p. 6). 

In Asia the whole of China was commonly known by this name. 
In Europe the expression was sometimes taken in this sense, and at 
others it designated a kingdom or province of Northern China. Marco 
Polo uses it in the latter sense, and he calls the capital of this province 
Cambalu or Koubalu, otherwise Khan-balik, which signifies the town 
or abode of the Khan ; it is now Peking. The expression was always 
somewhat vague ; but in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries there 
was a tendency to push further to the north-east the region to which 
it properly belonged. It was thought Asia extended in that direction 
far beyond its actual limits, and that Northern China, or Cathay, 
spread over the desert steppes, scarce peopled by the Tchoutkis and 
the Kamchadales, but which were pictured as covered with flourishing 
cities. It is from this geographical idea that sprung the many efforts 
to discover a road to Cathay by the north-west and the north-east. 
The name Cathay did not survive the Mongolian power in the Far East, 
and finally disappeared ; but in Europe the use of this name was 
long maintained. 

' Zaiton or ZayUn of Yule's Marco Polo (Book II., chaps. 81 and 82), 
now Chang Chau (see note 22 of the translation of the letter). The 1st 
November 1492, Columbus being abreast of Cuba, wrote : " I have in 
front of me Zayto and Guinsay" {Diario, 1st November 1492). The 
great commerce of Eastern Asia, says Humboldt, was in the 
Thirteenth Century divided between Quinsay and Zaiton {Cosmos, vol. 
1I„ p. 566.) 

' A paragraph which in the Latin text comes after the date is so 
called. See the translation of the letter : Appendix A, note 30. 


the superb city of Quinsay, 9 in the province of Mangi, 10 there 
are, going directly west, 26 spaces marked on the map, 
each space comprising 250 miles, or 6500 miles in all, 
making about one-third the circumference of the globe. 
But as from the isle of Antilia u to the famous isle of 
Cipangu" there are only 10 spaces, the unknown portion of 

* Quinsay is the ancient capital of Southern China, now called 
Hang-chau (Vivien de Saint- Martin, Cordier), on the Tsin-Tankiang 
river, and is the capital of the province of Che-kiang. It is situated 
30° 13' north, and tao 3 10' east of Greenwich. Marco Polo gives a 
glorified account of it, and calls it the Celestial City. Yule and Cordier 
agree on the point that Quinsay is the Chinese word King-see, which 
means capital (Yule's Marco Polo, vol. II., p. 166, chaps. 76 and 77, 
and Cordier's Atlas Catalan, p. 25.) Toscanelli says it has a circuit 
of too miles ; Marco Polo says the same ; but, whereas Toscanelli 
mentions 10 superb bridges, Marco Polo counts 12,000. Nicol6 di Conti 
only gives Quinsay a circuit of 30 miles (Ramusio, vol. I., p. 340). See 
note 35 to the translation of the letter: Appendix A. 

10 Mangi or Afansi.— This is Southern China, of which Quinsay is the 
capital. In Marco Polo it is Manii ; in Chinese, Mang-Tse. (Pauthier's 
Marco Polo, p. 452, note 6). At his fourth voyage Columbus thought he 
had reached that province. (Letter from Jamaica, 1503.) See Appendix 
A, note 38. 

11 The writer of the letter does not indicate the distance of Antilia 
from the shores of Europe, because he presupposes it is known ; but the 
omission may be easily supplied. We have shown elsewhere (Notice on 
Antilia in the work under press) that according to the cosmographical 
notions of Toscanelli's time this famous island would be found about 35° 
west of Lisbon. See Appendix A, note 40. 

" Cipangu. — This is Marco Polo's Japan, which he calls sometimes 
Zipangri, at others Zipangu, a corruption of the Chinese mme Ji pen 
Koue (Empire of the Rising Sun), whence comes the Japanase Nippon, 
having the same meaning. (Cordier: Vcxtrbne-Orient dans P Atlas 
Catalan, Paris, 1895, p. 9.) This is one of the names that occurs most 
frequently in the works of the authors of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and 
even Sixteenth Centuries. Marvellous things were related about this island 
which, being situated before those producing spices, would be the first 


the ocean to be crossed is not great ; therefore, by bringing 
up at Antilia the Asiatic coast is easily reached. Thus, on 
these indications, the maritime space separating the two 
extremities of the world is far less in extent than the terres- 
trial space ; in other words, by taking the ocean-way 
westward to the Indies the journey is much shorter than by 
the overland route eastward, or by the sea route to the 
south-east, for the first road extends to but 26 spaces — 
a third of the sphere — while the others comprise 52 spaces." 

III. — Importance of this Correspondence if 
AUTHENTIC. — One can see the consequences that follow 
from the existence of this correspondence between King 
Alfonso and Toscanelli. If from the year 1474, or rather 
before that date, for Toscanelli only returns to the question, 
Martins' correspondent had recommended the Portuguese 
King to cross the Atlantic direct westward in order to reach 
the Indies ; if he had sent him a map on which was traced 
the road to be followed, and if he had accompanied this 
map with explanations pointing out this route as being 
shorter than the one to the south-east, known as the 
Guinea route, then it is clear it was the celebrated Florentine 
astronomer who showed the way to Columbus, and those 
were in the right who said that to him was due the 

reached coming from the East, and Columbus thought more than once 
he had reached it. He first mistook Cuba and afterwards Hispaniola 
for it {Diario, 14th December 1492, and Las Casas Histiria, vol. I., p. 
361). Toscanelli, according to Las Casas (Joe. tit, vol. L, p. 360), gives 
it a circumference of 2400 miles, or 600 leagues. See Appendix A, 
note 41- 

u For fuller details as to the extent Toscanelli attributed to the globe, 
see ihe second pan : Toscanelli's Map. 


honour of having taken the initiative in the discovery of 
America. 1 * 

Although the authenticity of this correspondence has 
never been called in question, it is far from being incontro- 
vertible. History is full of events of which it may be said, 
as of many individuals, that they have been favoured by 
good luck. Long usage habituates us to them ; passing 
from mouth to mouth, from book to book, they end by 
acquiring the right to historical citation, and we accept them 

11 "This monumental letter assures to Toscanelli the indisputed merit 
of leading his age to the discovery of the Transatlantic lands " 
(D'Aveiac : Caaevas chronologique, etc., 1872, p. 50, note.) The previous 
year, at the Geographical Congress at Antwerp (1871), the same critic 
had said that it was Toscanelli who "decided the vocation of Columbus, 
a vocation much later than is generally supposed " (Congrte Gfog, 
<tAttvers, 1871, vol. II., p. 3). M. Uzielli has written a work to show that 
Toscanelli was the initiator of the discovery of America : Paolo dal 
Pozzo Toscanelli iniziatore della Scoperta if America, Florence, 1892, 
in 12°. See also the same author's Toscanelli, No. I, p. I, and his monu- 
mental work on Toscanelli, forming vol. V. of the Raccolta. 

More recently M. de Lollis thus expressed himself: "Toscanelli was 
the inspirer of Columbus in the sense that it was he who at first indirectly, 
and afterwards directly, suggested to Columbus and convinced him 
of the possibility of transatlantic navigation," (Qui a aVcouvert 
lAmeriquef in the Revue des Revues, Paris, 15th January 1898). M. de 
Lollis had previously expressed himself in the same manner in his popular 
History of Columbus. 

Speaking of the Toscanelli Letters, and of the map which went with 
it, Markham says: "They were destined to play so important a part 
in the conduct of the first voyage" (The Journal of Columbus, p. in). 
"This Florentine doctor was the first to plant in the mind of Columbus 
his aspirations for the truths of Geography" (Winsor: Christopher 
Columbus, Boston, 1891, p. 499.) For Mr Payne the great undertaking 
of Columbus " was mainly influenced by the ideas of Toscanelli," and 
" partly inspired by other contemporary conditions " (Hist, of the Nevj 
World, Oxford, 1892, vol. [., p. 107). 

However, priority for this view belongs to Humboldt, see note 1. 


without even imagining that they might be called in question. 
If facts, which by common consent take rank in all books 
of history, were submitted to a searching analysis, it would 
be surprising to find the number whose accuracy was any- 
thing but well established. Others, on the contrary, without 
being in the least more doubtful, find it hard to win belief. 
Criticism minutely dissects them, and pitilessly lays open 
ail the defects which may, and which often should, place 
them under suspicion. The first voyage of Vespucci, to 
mention only a single instance, is a case in the second 
category ; the letter of Toscanelli to Fernam Martins is an 
example of the former. Few documents have been more 
read, more studied, more often translated and expounded, 
than this famous letter ; none has ever been more easily 
accepted. 16 

IV.— Whence came the Correspondence.— Before 
dealing with the question of the authenticity of this docu- 

14 It may be said its authenticity has never been discussed. The 
first, to my knowledge, who has lightly touched upon the subject is the 
Spanish Jesuit Francois- Xavier Lampillas. In his work, Saggto storico 
apohgetko delta Uttcratura spanuola, etc. (Genoa, 1778-1781, 6 vols., in 
8°), he mentions it in a few words, but only superficially and nervously. 
(See First Part, vol. II., pp. 243 el seq.). Tiraboschi has replied to his 
remarks (Storia della htteraiura italiana, vol. VI., part I., p. 189). 

The second who has called attention to some of the extraordinary 
assertions in the letter to Martins is a Portuguese named De Barros e 
Vasconcellos, author of a letter on this subject sent to the Journal des 
Savanls, and published in that collection for January 1758. Barros 
does not dare directly to call Toscanelli himself into question, but tackles 
his commentator Ximenes. M. Eugene Gelcich, Professor at Pola, in 
Austria, has been, it would appear, much bolder in a small volume we 
have not been able to see : La scoperta dell 'America, Goritz, 1890. At 
a late meeting of the Americanists, M. G. de La Rosa plainly stated 
the letter to be apocryphal. 


ment, let us recall how it first came to our knowledge. We 
have seen that, according to the terms in which it is written, 
King Alfonso would appear to have had the idea, at least as 
early as 1474, of going to the Indies by the west, and that 
Toscanelli, in order to give him some information on the 
subject, had written the letter in question to Fernam Martins, 
accompanying it with a map. Some years later, Columbus, 
having also formed the project of going to the Indies by 
the west, heard of the existence of this correspondence, and 
hastened to write to Toscanelli to ask his advice: it is then 
he is supposed to have received from Toscanelli a copy of 
his letter and map of 1474. Columbus, however, never 
mentioned taking this step, which we only know by Las 
Casas reporting it in a portion of his Histiria de las Ittdias, 
written or revised towards 1552. It is in this work that 
first appears the correspondence of Toscanelli with Columbus, 
but in the form of a Spanish translation, whose author Las 
Casas does not name. 

In 1571 there was published at Venice, in Italian, a life 
of Columbus, attributed to his son Ferdinand, translated 
ostensibly from a Spanish manuscript known only to the 
translator, in which was given an Italian version of the 
letter to Martins, with the statement that it had been written 
in Latin, that it was accompanied by a map, and that these 
documents had greatly influenced Columbua For three 
centuries the letter to Martins was known only by this 
Italian version, although the manuscripts of Las Casas, 
which contain a Spanish version, were accessible to scholars. 
In 1871 Mr Harrisse discovered in the Colombina, in a 
volume which had belonged to Columbus, a copy of the Latin 
text of the letter, in the supposed handwriting of Columbus 


few years later, in 1S75, the entire text of Las 
Casas, until then unpublished, was given to the public. 

V.— Supposed Relations between Columbus and 
TOSCANELLI. — We see by what precedes, and we shall see 
more dearly by what follows, that it is only because Columbus 
is supposed to have received from Toscanelli a copy of his 
letter of 1474 that we hear of that document. It is, therefore, 
necessary to set down carefully what we know of the 
relations which are thus supposed to have existed between 
the great navigator and the distinguished Florentine 
astronomer. It works out at very little. Las Casas and 
Ferdinand Columbus, who alone mention' 6 the fact, simply 
say that, when Columbus was thinking of putting into 
execution his great design, he learned that Messire Paolo, 
physician, had written on the same subject to a Canon of 
Lisbon, named Martins ; and that, through a Florentine 
merchant dwelling at Lisbon, 17 he wrote to acquaint Tosca- 
nelli with his project, and sent with his letter a small explana- 
tory sphere. Messire Paolo, that is to say, Toscanelli, is 
supposed to have replied to Columbus, encouraging him and 
sending him for his information a copy of the letter he had 
formerly sent to Martins, as well as a duplicate of the map 
which had accompanied this letter. 18 

'• Las Casas' HislMa, Book I., chap, xii., vol. I., p. 92. — Historic, fol. 
15. The two accounts are written exactly in the same terms, and are 
evidently copied one from the Other. 

" Lorenzo Birardo according to Las Casas ; Lorenzo Cirardi 
according to the Historic {loc. cit.), 

18 This first communication from Toscanelli to Columbus does not 
contain more than a do?en lines ; it is a mere covering note with his 
letter to Martins. Of it we only possess a Spanish version, coming from 


It is supposed Columbus wrote several times to Tosca- 
nelli ; at any rate we have a letter attributed to the Floren- 
tine master which is considered to be a reply to another 
communication from Columbus. In it Toscanelli rejoices 
that his map has been understood ; he repeats that the 
projected voyage is certain to succeed ; and he persuades 
Columbus to persevere, by laying stress on the commercial 
advantages which will result from the undertaking, and on 
the desire the princes of the rich countries to which he is 
going have to enter into relations with the Christian 
nations. 10 

Neither Las Casas nor Ferdinand Columbus gives the 
slightest indication as to the date of this correspondence, 
for, although the letter to Martins is, as we have seen, 
dated 1474, the covering note from Toscanelli and his second 
letter to Columbus are undated. This absence of any date 
to documents which are thought to have exerted a decisive 
influence on the life of Columbus has puzzled the critics, 
who have sought to supply this deficiency from information 
obtained from the pieces themselves. At first it was held 
that the correspondence between Toscanelli and Columbus 
took place at the very period Toscanelli was writing to 
Martins. An expression used in the note to Columbus 
enclosing a copy of the letter written to Martins — Ita dias, 
which literally means it is some days — had given rise to this 
opinion, which had the high sanction of Humboldt. But 

Las Casas, and an Italian version given in the Historic. See 
Appendix E. 

10 Like the former note, this letter is undated : we have two versions 
of it — one Spanish, the other Italian — which are respectively given by 
Las Casas and the Historic. See Appendix E. 


everyone is now agreed that this expression must not be 

read in its strict and literal sense, and that it really means 
many days — a long time — instead of some days only.* 

M Ha Aim.— The original Latin text of this note being lost, we can only 
seek in the Spanish and Italian versions for the meaning of the phrase 
referring to the date when it was written, these versions having been 
made while the Latin text was supposed to be still existing. " In reply 
to your letter I send you the copy of the one I wrote, algunos dias ha," 
says the Spanish, " alquanfi giomifa," says the Italian. Literally, algunos 
dias ha means "it is some days," and it is thus Humboldt translates 
the phrase (Examen critique, vol. I., p. 124) ; and Fiske, relying upon 
this great authority, as also upon the Italian version, which has exactly 
the same meaning, likewise renders it "a few days ago" {The Discovery of 
America, vol. I., p. 363). SirC. Markham translates it the same way (The 
Journal of Columbus, p. 3), as also does Mr Winsor (Christ. Columbus, 
p. 108). Others, widening the literal sense, have made it " there is some 
time," nevertheless implying that the correspondence took place the 
very year Toscanelli wrote to Martins, that is to say, in 1474. Among 
these we may name Baldassare Colombo, Navarrete, Ximenes, Cladera, 
Tiraboschi, W. Irving, Bonnefous, Roselly de Lorgues, Hoeffer, Major, 
Sanguinetti. These scholars never anticipated it would be discovered, 
later on, that in [474 Columbus had not yet left Genoa. 

In his article in the Revue critique for 1893, p. 8, on Ckristophe 
Colontb el Toscanelli, Mr Harrisse states the question in its true sense 
by showing that Ha dias does not mean " it is some days," but "it is 
many days, it is a long time," and he supports this assertion by several 
examples. Here are some other quotations which will leave no doubt 
as to the true meaning of this idiom : — Y serafomoso que me digan dias 
ha que nos conocitnos, " 1 1 is necessary I should be told that it is a long 
lime we have known one another " (Quevedo in the Diccionario de la 
lengua Castellana. . . . Madrid, 1726-39, 6 vols, fol., vol. III., p. 256, 
coL I). Dias ha, "there is a long time" (Oudin : Tesiro de las lenguas 
francesa y espaiwla, Paris, 1607). Oviedo, speaking of transatlantic 
voyages, says that "no pleasure equals that of persons who have been 
long at sea," los que ha dias que navegan, "when they again see land." 
(Histdria Generdl de las Indias, t. I., p. 24, col. 2.) Finally, we find an 
example in Columbus himself which decides the question. In his 
letter of the 7th July 1503, he recalls that the Emperor of Cathay has 


It is therefore some years at least after writing to Martins 
that Toscanelli is supposed to have corresponded with 
Columbus. But how long afterwards? Another phrase in 
the covering letter to Columbus has been thought to throw 
some light on this point. Toscanelli says it was before the 
wars of Castile that he sent his views to Martins; this may 
be exact, for this communication is dated the 25th June 1474, 
and it was not till May 1475 that Alfonso decided to invade 
Castile. But the use of the words " before the wars of 
Castile" presupposes that when they were written these 
wars were over. Now, though the battle of Toro, lost by 
Alfonso in 1476, interrupted hostilities, the war did not end 
till the 4th September 1479, the date of the treaty of peace 
between the two countries. Toscanelli, if he ever wrote 
to Columbus, did not therefore do so until after the 4th 
September 1479;" and if, as Las Casas and Ferdinand 

requested ha dias learned men should be sent to instruct him in the 
Catholic faith. Now Columbus here alludes to the Embassy Kublai 
Khan entrusted to the Polos, which embassy Marco Polo mentions in 
his Seventh Chapter. It therefore dated from 200 years before, as is 
indicated in the letter to Martins where the fact is recalled. 

Thus Columbus uses Aa diss to express when a fact took place, 
although he knew it had happened 200 years ago. 

u Dote 0/ Columbus' relations -with Toscanelli.— This demonstration, 
simple and self-evident though it be, has not occurred to all the critics, 
although D'Aveiac made it as early as [872 {Canevas clironologigue, etc., 
pp. 52-53)- Mr Harrisse himself, who returns to this point several times, 
only saw the true solution at the very last. In 1S72 he considered the 
phrase "before the wars of Castile" might mean wars not yet finished ; 
and he assigns the correspondence of Columbus with Toscanelli to 
between the years 1475 or 1476 and 1479 {Ferimnd Colomb, p. 92). In 
1884, in his Christophe Colomb, he seems to retract this view by saying 
that it is some time after (the 25th June 1474) that Toscanelli wrote to 
Columbus (vol. I., p. 149). Further on, at page 328, he corrects himself, 
and extends to 1482 the period within which Toscanelli might have 



Columbus say, it was the advice and suggestions the cele- 
brated astronomer sent the discoverer that decided his mind 
as to the journey he was contemplating, we cannot place 
the correspondence alleged to have occurred between them 
earlier than 1480, or even the following year." 

corresponded with Columbus. In 1892, in his Discovery, p. 380, and in 
1893, in ihe Revue critique {Colomb et Toscartelll, p. 8), he gives the 
phrase its true value, "after the treaty of 1479." These variants in a 
critic so well armed as Mr Harrisse show that the simplest truths are not 
always to be seen at the first glance. For instance, Mr Fiske, who 
ranks deservedly high among critics, and who thoroughly knew all that 
has been written on this subject, finds that the phrase " before the wars 
of Castile" does not refer lo the war of Succession of 1475-1479, the only 
war which then occurred between Castile and Portugal, but to Ihe civil 
wars which disturbed Castile from 1465 to 1475. Mr Fiske has devoted 
to this small question a three-page note of small type, wherein he unfolds 
learning of the most singular character {The Discovery of America, vol. 
I., pp. 365-368.) It is to be regretted Sir C. Markham shared this 
erroneous view {Journal of Columbus, p. 4). This question has been 
very judiciously handled by M. de Lollis in Scritti di Colombo in the 
Raccolla Colombiana, p. ccii. et seq. 

15 D'Avezac thinks it is probably about the accession of Joao II that 
should be placed the relations between Columbus and Toscanclli 
(Caruvai, p. 53). Pesche! places this correspondence towards the end 
of the year 1479 and the middle of 1481 (Zeitalter der Endeckungen, p. 
1 10). M. de LolUs is more precise ; according to him, it is between the 
month of September 1479 and the month of August 1481 that Columbus 
wrote to ToscaneUi {Qui a dt-'couveri I' Am/rique ? m ihe Revue das Revues, 
15th January 1898; and in Scritti di Colombo, " Raccolta Columbiana* 


I. — The Texts HAVE disappeared.— From the pre- 
ceding recital it follows that there were three autograph 
copies of Toscanelli's letter to Martins : the one sent to 
him, the one Toscanelli sent to Columbus, and the one he 
evidently kept by himself, since he was able to make 
copies ; not one of these original texts or copies has been 
found. It is the same with Columbus' letter to Toscanelli 
to which the latter is supposed to have replied : neither 
among the papers of the Florentine astronomer, nor 
among those of the great navigator, has a single trace of 
it been found. Furthermore, it must be stated that the 
very fact of the existence of a correspondence between 
Toscanelli and Columbus rests only on the unequal evidence 
of two witnesses; that of Las Casas and Ferdinand 
Columbus, one of whom merely copies the other, as will 
be shown. 

II. — The Letter to Martins is unknown to the 
PORTUGUESE. — As regards the letter to Martins the very 


terms of which indicate it was not the only one Toscanelli 
wrote to the supposed confidant of King Alfonso upon the 
same subject, it, as also those which had preceded it, is 
unknown to aU the Portuguese writers of the time. No 
mention of it is made either in the documents of the 
period or in the books of that day, unless written from 
information drawn from purely Columbian sources. The 
very name of the Florentine astronomer is ignored by 
all the chroniclers who have dealt with Alfonso V and 
Joao II. Ruy de Pina, who lived at the date this corre- 
spondence is said to have taken place, who became 
custodian of the Royal Archives, and who wrote the 
history of King Alfonso, nowhere mentions the name of 
Toscanelli. Resende, who occupied a confidential post near 
Joao II, and who was certainly well acquainted with every- 
thing that took place towards the close of King Alfonso's 
reign, during which Joao was in fact in power, is equally 
ignorant of the celebrated astronomer. The intention to 
seek a new route to the East Indies, alleged by this cor- 
respondence to have been entertained by King Alfonso, is 
also as unknown to the documents and Portuguese authors 
as was the name of the learned man who is supposed to 
have been the promoter of that project. Not one of the 
papers forming the vast and rich collection of the Torre do 
Tombo, remaining intact to our days, has been found con- 
taining any reference to that matter. Not only so im- 
portant a fact of having conceived such a scheme, and of 
being so interested in it as to seek abroad for information 
as to the method of executing it, has left no trace in the 
documents, but it had also faded from every memory ; for 
when in 1493, Columbus, returning from the discovery of 


the New World, presented himself triumphantly before 
King Joao II, not a soul thought of recalling this circum- 
stance. It is, nevertheless, clear that Barros, who is un- 
favourable to Columbus, and who with difficulty finds 
excuses for King Joao II having refused to listen to him, 
would not have failed to say that the Portuguese knew of 
the project before him, had he been aware that Toscanelli 
had already proposed it to King Alfonso; and, if this 
were so, how came it that Barros ignored it? 

III.— Martins is an absolutely unknown Person- 
ace. — This complete silence upon such a scheme, which could 
not have been formed and organised in the dark, is not 
the only remarkable thing that has to be noticed respect- 
ing this correspondence between Alfonso and Toscanelli. 
Fernam Martins, the individual charged by the king to 
consult the learned Italian, is also as unknown to the 
documents and Portuguese authors as the fact of the cor- 
respondence carried on by his instrumentality. Among all 
the Lisbon Canons of the time of Alfonso who can be 
traced, his name does not appear. It is nowhere to be 
found. s Yet he must have been a personage of some 

w I am indebted for this observation to my learned friend Seiior 
G. de La Rosa, who, with the industry of a Benedictine, has ransacked 
all the documents of the period, all the chronicles and old works 
in which a record of this nature might have been entered, without 
finding a trace of the Lisbon Canon, Fernam Martins, who was 
Alfonso's contemporary. It must nevertheless be remarked that King 
Alfonso had a chaplain named Martyns who accompanied him to 
France, and who was thoroughly in his confidence, for it was to him 
he confided his resolve never to return to Portugal, but to proceed 
incognito to Rome in order to enter religion (Ruy de Pina, Ckron. 
Aff. V., chap, ccii., p. 582). But this Martyns was called Estevam, not 


importance, for Toscanelli congratulates him that he 
occupies a confidential post near the king. 51 


is not only in Portugal that this correspondence and the 

nd, moreover, he was not a Canon. It may be noticed 
that one Fernando Martinez, a servant (criado) of Columbus, figures 
among the witnesses to his will, dated the 19th May 1506 (Navarette : 
Coke. Viages, vol. II., p. 315), 

But, even should it be proved that a Fern am Martins had 
existed, it would not be evidence that Toscanelli had written to him 
the letter of the 25th June 1474. If that letter is apocryphal, it is 
highly probable that the author of the forgery, in order to make it 
appear more genuine, would have selected as correspondent for the 
learned Florentine a person who really lived in 1474, and from whom 
a repudiation was no longer to be feared. 

M Martins and Roriz.— Theve is a passage in the Italian text of 
the letter to Martins which gives the impression that he and Toscanelli 
had had personal relations ; and, as Toscanelli was never in Portugal, 
it is supposed it was Martins who went to Italy, where he formed an 
acquaintance with Toscanelli, and, it is even added, became his friend. 
M. de Lollis affirms this after M. Uz\el\i (Qui a &couvert V AmMque f in 
the Revue des Revues, 15th January 1898, p. 148). On what is this 
assertion based ? Simply on the fact that at the bottom of the 
will of Cardinal de Cusa, who died on the 6th August 1464, is found 
the signature of Toscanelli side by side with that of one Fernando 
de Roriz, who is described as being a Canon of Lisbon, and in this 
person is believed to have been found the correspondent and friend 
of Toscanelli. M. Uziclli, who is the author of this conjecture (P. dat 
P. Toscanelli, Florence, 1892, p. 212 ; and La Vita e tempi di P. dal P, 
Toscanelli, Raccolta, part V., I. I., pp. 261-263), remarks that it is 
a custom in Spain and Portugal to bear several names, and this 
habit authorises us to believe that the full name of this witness was 
Fernando Martinez de Roriz. We may well ask why this Roriz 
should, contrary to all custom, sign a will with only a part of his 
name! M. Uzielli, however, believes that "until the contrary be 
proved," the identity is established. His friend, M. de Lollis, is 
evidently of the same opinion. 


•dacme which led to it have left no trace; it is the i 
is Italy. Not a line on the subject has been found 
among the papers of Toscanelli; no map or writing 
whatever has been discovered which indicates that he 
had troubled himself about the road to the Indies or 
crossing the Atlantic The contemporaries and friends of 
Toscanelli are equally mute on the subject Yet Florence, 
at the time Toscanelli lived, was an artistic, literary, and 
scientific centre, and Toscanelli dwelt there amid a group 
of literary men and scholars, who must have known if he 
had occupied himself with this question. 

An indication that the correspondence of Toscanelli 
with Martins or Columbus was known in Italy has been 
seen in the fact that Duke Hercules d'Este, on hearing 
of Columbus' discovery, immediately instructed his ambas- 
sador in Florence to inquire of Toscanelli's nephew, who 
had inherited all his uncle's papers on his death twelve 
years before, whether among those documents there existed 
any notes referring to the islands which had just been 
discovered for Spain. 26 The nephew's reply is unknown ; 
but it is certain that he found nothing, for nothing re- 
ferring thereto has ever been produced. That Duke 
Hercules should have taken this step is certainly remark- 
able, and the circumstance might seem to furnish a proof 
that Toscanelli himself had spoken of his relations with 
Columbus, Still, there does not exist among the contem- 

"The letter in which Duke Hercules charged his ambassador, 
Mnnfredo Manfred!, with this commission, is dated Ferrara, 26th June 
1494. It was found by M. Uzielli, who has published it in his Epitto- 
lario Colombo Toscantlliano t i Dante, Rome, 1889, in 8°, pp. 33-34. 
It i* alto found in the Raccelta Colombians: Fonti Italiant, vol. 1 
V- MS- 


poraries of the great astronomer a single trace that any 
such intercourse had taken place. Might the Duke's 
ambassador in Portugal or Spain, have learnt from some- 
one in touch with Columbus that he claimed to have been 
in correspondence with Toscanelli? That is possible; yet 
it would not prove the authenticity of the correspondence, 
for at that period Columbus, or one of his family, may 
have wished to lean on the authority of such a personage 
as Toscanelli, who had then been long dead. In all this 
there is evidently an obscure point which, perhaps, creates 
a presumption in favour of the authenticity of the corre- 

Nevertheless it remains that Duke Hercules was the sole 
person whom the rumour reached that Toscanelli had 
occupied himself with transatlantic discoveries; while 
many others, infinitely more advantageously placed for 
learning the fact, had never heard a word upon the subject. 
First among these must be mentioned Pietro Parenti, who, 
under the date of March 1493, records in his Chronicle 
Columbus' discovery, and adds the remark that some per- 
sons pretend there were indications of the existence of the 
newly found regions in a certain map in the possession of Car- 
dinal Bessarion, Archbishop of Nic*ea. M This chronicler, like 
Toscanelli, was a Florentine ; he had been his contemporary, 
seeing he was Prior of the Signoria from 1482 to 1502,^ 

"John Bessarion died in 1472. He had lived in Italy on terms 
of intimacy with the Popes and all the lettered men of his day. He 
was himself a man of vast learning, and a great collector of manu. 
scripts and books. 

" See M. Uiielli's note, in his Toscanelli, No. 1, p. 34, on this person- 
age and the map he n 


and he had talked with persons who discussed the dis- 
covery of Columbus, for he speaks of a map which they 
quoted, and yet he knew neither Toscanelli's interest in 
the subject nor his map. 

Among others may be mentioned Ambrogio Camaldolese, SB 
the Superior of the Convent degli Angeli, where gathered a 
group of scholars, including Toscanelli, who was Ambrogio's 
intimate friend : Francesco Berlinghieri, 2 * who published a 
curious geography in verse just at the time Toscanelli died : 
Marsilio Fisino, 30 who has left so many works on Plato, and 
who speaks of Atlantis— when, surely, was the occasion to 
mention the project attributed to Toscanelli : Dati, who 
published at Florence itself, and but very shortly after the 
return of Columbus, his poem on the discovery of the New 
World, wherein he speaks of a multitude of things, 
always excepting the conception of his townsman and 
contemporary, which had led to this discovery : S1 Vespasiano 
da Bisticci, the learned Florentine bookseller, who saw 
all the lettered men of the town, and who has left a 
history of the worthies of Florence, wherein figures Tosca- 
nelli ; but not a word is said as to his opinion on the route 
to the Indies: Zaccaria Lilius, the author of a geography 
where one might expect to find some mention of the 

w Ambrogio Traversari, General of the Religious Order of the 
Camalduli, whose name is always joined to his, was born in 1386, and 
died in 1439, when Toscanelli was forty-iwo years of age. 

™ Gcographia di Francesco Berlingkieri, Florence, Nicola Todesco, 

10 Marsilio Fisino, bom in 1433, died i 
collected and published at Basle in 1561. 
91 Giuliano Dati, born in 1445, died in tj 


matter : w the learned Cardinal de Cusa, M a great friend of 
Toscanelli, of whom he speaks with praise : Christoforo 
Landino, M the tutor of Lorenzo de' Medici, who left volu- 
minous commentaries on Dante and Virgil, wherein many 
things are treated, including the interest Toscanelli took in 
information respecting the Far East, but not one word of his 
cosmographical notions: Alberti,** the learned architect: 
Machiavelli : Poliziano, 38 the author of many works and 
writings, among which occur letters to the King of Portugal : 
Pico della Mirandola: 31 Beroaldo: 88 and so many other 
scholars and literati who personally knew Toscanelli or 
lived beside him, and who mostly have mentioned him, 
but not one of whom has ever said a word about his geo- 
graphical ideas, of the opinions he had formed as to the 
route to the Indies, and of the map he had drawn up to 
point out that route. 

V. — The Publication in the Historie of Tosca- 
NELLI'S LETTERS (iJ70- — Before the publication at Venice, 
in 1571, of the small work bearing the name of Ferdinand 
Columbus, it was not therefore suspected that the great 
navigator and the great astronomer had been or could 
have been in epistolary correspondence. It was by the 
publication of the Historie, and by that alone, that the 
learned world became acquainted with those relations, 

M Zaccaria Lilius : Orbis brrviarium, etc, Florence, 1493. 

13 Born in 1401, died in 1464. 

* Cristoforo Landino, bom in 1424, died in 1504. 

K Leone Baltista Alberti, born in 1404, died in 1484. 

"Angiolo Poliiiano, bom in 1454, died in 1494. 

57 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, bom in 1463, died in 1494. 

18 Beroaldo el Vecchio, bom in 1453, died in 1505. 


It might have been thought that such a revelation, which 
placed an illustrious Florentine in the very forefront of the 
great intellectual movement which led to the discovery of 
the other half of the globe, would hare awakened the 
memory of at least a few among that great number who 
were interested in the glory of Toscanelli, and would have 
caused some communication to be made relative to a fact 
at once so interesting and nattering to Italian scholars, 
and particularly to those of Florence. But nothing of the 
kind happened. No more after than before the publication 
of the Historic was anyone found to utter a single word 
confirming, either directly or indirectly, the existence of 
any relations whatever between Toscanelli and Alfonso, or 
between him and Columbus. Nevertheless one effort was 
made in this direction, and one only. It well deserves to 
be recorded, for it turned to the confusion of those who 
dared attempt it 

VI,— Forced Statement of Egnatio Danti (1571- 
1572), — Jurt as the Htstorie were appearing at Venice, a 
learned Italian, Father Egnatio Danti, published at Florence 
itself, Totcanelli's own city, a new edition of an Italian 
translation made by Egnatio's grandfather, Pier Vincenzo 
Dante de Kinaldi, of a small cosmographical work, which had 
during the Middle Ages and until the Seventeenth Century 
the unmerited good fortune to be translated into nearly all 
languages, and to be reprinted a great number of times. 
This work was the Sphere of an Englishman called Holy- 
wood, who is better known under his Italianised name of 
Sacro-Bosco. w In this edition, which is preceded by an 

* La s/era di metier Giovanni Saetoboico, tradolti, emendate e distinta 



introduction and accompanied with notes by Dante de 
Rinaldi, two passages occur wherein Columbus is mentioned, 
only one of which, however, need occupy us,* It in 
substance states that the opinion which declares the torrid 
zone to be uninhabited must be erroneous, for Columbus 
discovered, in 1491, countries that were peopled within this 
zone, and that he had informed Toscanelli of the fact in a 
letter dated from Seville, which letter he, Dante de Rinaldi, 
had seen.* 1 

It does not appear that any author of the time has re- 
marked this extraordinary assertion, which makes Columbus 
return from his first voyage a year before he set out on it, 

in cafiitoli da Piervincentio Dante de Rinaldi con moltt et utili annotasioni 
del medtsimo. Revista da frate Egnatio Danti cosmografo del gran duca 
di Toscana. ... In Firenza. Nella stamperia de Giunti, 1571. The 
colophon bears 1572. Small 4°, six unnumbered leaves, and pp. 1-68. 

** The first of these two passages will be found at p. r5- It conveys 
that the exact extent of the surfaces of the globe respectively occupied 
by land and sea cannot yet be determined, nor can it be done until 
after the discovery of the whole earth, at which discovery Columbus 
is now working, he having already found a new world, whence several 
limes already ships have returned to Spain, laden with gold, pearls, 
and precious stones. This passage has been retained in the subsequent 
editions of the translation of Sacro-Bosco by Rinaldi. 

" Here is a literal translation of this passage, which is to be 
found at pages 34 and 35 : "As to the torrid zone and the two cold 
or glacial zones being uninhabitable, Christopher Columbus has proved 
that this is an error ; for, having set out from Spain in 1491, and sailing 
towards the west, he discovered countries situated within that zone, 
and on his return to Spain, after a voyage of four months, he reported 
that the said zone was much peopled ; of which fact I have had proof, 
having seen myself the letters which the said Christopher Columbus 
addressed from Seville to the very learned and expert mathematician, 
Master Paoto Toscanella {sic), a Florentine, who sent them to me by 
the intermediary of Messire Cornelio Randoli." 


and which states that he wrote to Toscanelli in 1491, when 
Toscanelli had been dead since 1482. Still it did not pass 
altogether unnoticed, for, in the following edition of the 
work, published in 1574, the passage was suppressed with- 
out any explanation being given.* 3 Any comment on this 
is unnecessary. It is evident these few lines were only 
printed in order to confirm the existence of the corre- 
spondence between Toscanelli and Columbus, which had 
just been published at Venice, and that the author of this 
unlucky interpolation, Father Egnatio Danti, had evidently not 
noticed what anachronisms he was committing.* 3 Others, 

" This edition was published at Perugia by Bernardino Rastelli. 
The next, which is of 1479, appeared at Florence, and like that of 
1471, was published by Giunti. The interpolated passage has also 
disappeared there. 

" I ought to state that I have not always looked upon this inter- 
polation as I do to-day. Before completing my investigations on the 
i of the Portuguese, a subject which has long occupied my 
, I had thought the phrase introduced by Egnatio Danti into 
the note of his grandfather might have been suggested by some vague 
remembrance of what the latter had told him as to his knowledge of 
the correspondence Toscanelli is supposed to have exchanged with 
Columbus, a remembrance which had been recalled by the publication 
of the Historic, I think 1 wrote in this sense to M. Uzielli some seven 
or eight years ago. At that period I entertained not the slightest 
suspicion as to the authenticity of the correspondence supposed to 
have been exchanged between Toscanelii and Columbus. 

It may perhaps be asked, as I have asked myself, whether it is not 
possible to explain the statement attributed to Dante de Rinaldi by 
some confusion between the great expedition of Columbus and his 
voyages to the coast of Guinea, during which, he assures us, he 
discovered that the Torrid Zone was habitable. (See Columbus' 
notes to the Imago Mundi, vol. Seritti, in the Colombiana, No. 234). 
But if this be so, why has the passage been suppressed, when it 
only required to rectify the error in order to retain an interesting 
piece of information ? It is the suppression that reveals the fraud. 


however, had noticed the slip, and an effort was made to 
hush up the incriminating fact ; none the less it remains, 
and, even to our day, there have not been wanting scholars 
who have found in this paragraph convincing proof of the 
relations of Columbus with Toscanelli." 

COLUMBUS. — Among the extraordinary things a study of 
the formation of the legend of the relations of Columbus with 
Toscanelli reveals, there is one stranger than all the others: 
it is, that the great Genoese never appears to have known 
of the existence of this correspondence. In fact, he himself 

If this suppression had been the work of another publisher or printer, 
it might be thought, not knowing how to correct the mistake, it had 
been decided simply to erase the sentence which contained it. But 
it is Egnatio Danti himself and bis own printer who carried out the 
suppression. Would they have so acted if it were merely a question 
of rectifying a date in the passage in order 10 re-establish the truth? 
Most certainly not. 

" Signor Prospero Peragallo, who has published numerous writings 
on Columbus, but in whom the critical faculty does not appear to be 
highly developed, having by chance bought a copy of the edition of 
i yj\ of Sacro-Bosco, saw therein, quite naturally, the exact opposite of 
what he should have seen : proof of the relations of Columbus with 
Toscanelli {Riconferma Uelf autenticita delle Historic di Fernando Colombo, 
Cenova, 1 885, in 8° ; and Cristoforo Colombo e la sua famiglia, Lisboa, 
1888, p. 104). Sefior Asensio, who should have been better informed, 
has shared Signor Peragallo's singular error (Cristdbal Cotdn, sit vida, 
etc., Barcelona, 1893, vol. I., p. 428, note). One regrets to see Sir 
C. Markham associate himself with such an opinion {Christopher 
Columbus, 1892, p. 147). Dante de Rinaldi's error was first noticed 
by Ximenes {Del Vecchio e nuovo gnomone fortntlno, 1757, p. xcviii.). 
Since Iben a number of critics have dealt with it as it deserved, among 
others, Signor Uiielli {Episfolario Colombo - Toscaneltiano, 1889; and 
Toscanelli, No. I, January 1893, p. 35); and Mr Harrisse {Cotomb et 
Toscanelli, 1893, p. 7)- 


: been , 

to whom it purports 
would have been so useful — he who, according to Las Casas, 
based on it all his hopes,* 6 all his calculations — he of whom 
his son says that it fixed his ideas and decided his vocation,* 8 
— he has never written a line, has never said a word, has never 
made the slightest allusion, which can give reason to believe 
that he knew there had been at Florence a scholar known 
as Master Paolo to whom he was under such great obliga- 
tions. What, moreover, renders this silence all the more 
significative is that the great navigator was not one of those 
close spirits who work out in solitude their problems and 
who make a secret of their ideas. He was, on the contrary, 
a talker. He spoke and wrote much ; and, with respect to 
the origin of his great design, he has shown himself to be 
highly communicative in carefully recording every trifle 
which had contributed to the formation of his plan. Thus 
it i» that he speaks to us of Aristotle, of Seneca, of Strabo, 
of I'liny, of Aliaco ; * that he enumerates the various attempts, 
more or less important, made at discoveries towards the 
west, and that he records a quantity of signs indicating the 
existence of unknown lands j" it is evident that on this 
long enumeration of names and facts he dwells with pleasure j 
still therein he just precisely omits to mention that very Master 
I'aolo who, himself alone, had done more for him than all 
the others together ! Surely this is very strange ! 

Not only has Columbus never made the most distant 

* " I think he based ihe whole scheme of his voyage on this letter 
(the one to Martin*)." Liis Casaa : HtsMria. . . . chap, iv., vol. I., p. 96. 

* HUtori*, chap, viii., fol. 19, recto. 
w Hittoric, chaps, vi," and vii. 

m Historic, chap. ix. 


allusion to Toscanelli and the documents and information 
obtained from him — information on which, according to Las 
Casas, he placed implicit faith ; * B but it will be seen later on, 
when it is a question of the map, that a circumstance in 
connection therewith arose when his language is equivalent 
to a denial. We speak of the discussion which took place 
on the 25th September between him and Pinzdn respecting 
the position of certain isles which they could not find, and 
which, nevertheless, were marked on the road-map of the 
expedition. Columbus, recording this incident in his log- 
book, speaks of the map in terms which might lead to the 
belief that he himself had drawn it up, but which, most 
assuredly, do not lend themselves to the idea that it was a 
map of Toscanelli 60 which was under discussion. Here, it 

* " Columbus had such faith in the letter (the one to Martins) 
and to the depicted map which the said Paul, physician, had 
sent to him, that he never doubted he should find the lands therein 
indicated" (Las Casas: Histdria, t. L, p. 279. See also pp. 316 
and 360). 

M See on this point the second part of this work, chap, ii., paragraph 
3, where the very words of Columbus are quoted and commented. 

A reminiscence of Toscanelli's letter to Martins has been seen 
(Humboldt : Examen critiqut, 1. 1., p. 213) in the passage at the begin- 
ning of Columbus' Journal, where he speaks of the Great Khan, whose 
name means king of kings, and who desired that doctors of the Chris- 
tian faith should be sent to him (Diario, in Navarrete, Viages, vol. I., 
p. I, Markham's edition, London, 1893, p. 16). The identity of idea 
in the two passages is undeniable, but that does not prove that 
Columbus is not here expressing his own ideas which later on served 
for fabricating the letter to Martins. If it is from Toscanelli that 
Columbus holds the fact he puts forward in this passage, he hides 
the source of his information ; he hides it again when, later on, in 
his letter of 7th July 1503, he refers a second time to that same fact. 
(See above, note 20). In both cases be speaks as if the information 
came from himself. Perhaps it may be thought there was r 


is true, it is only the map attributed to Toscanelli that is 
in question; but, as that map accompanied the letter which 
explained it, it is clear that, if Columbus did not know of it 
in September 1492, the letter was equally unknown to him. 

Are we to see a proof of the authenticity of the corre- 
spondence attributed to Toscanelli in the alleged fact that 
Columbus copied with his own hand the only Latin text 
we have of the principal document of that correspondence, 
the letter to Martins? Let us admit for a moment that 
this very disputable point 61 is established. How, then, are 
we to explain that Columbus has never mentioned this 
letter, or any other of Toscanelli? Will it be said that 
perhaps he desired to hide the real source whence he drew 
the inspiration for his great undertaking ? If Columbus had 
really borrowed something from this correspondence, the 
argument would have some value. But, further on, we 
shall show that Columbus owes absolutely nothing to the 
documents attributed to Toscanelli ; that he never made 
use of the map alleged to have accompanied the letter to 

to mention Toscanelli in either case. But neither does he name him 
when, later on, he tells Bemaldez how he came to form the first 
notion of seeking the lands of the Great Khan by sailing to the west 
(Bernaldei: Hisliiria de las Reyes catilkos, chap, cxxiii.). Here once 
again Columbus ignores Toscanelli, and appears, on the contrary, to 
credit Mandeville with being the primitive source of his cosmographical 
notions. This chapter of Bemaldez is very curious, and we regret not 
being able to dwell further upon it. The name of Mandeville recurs 
in it several times, and it is to be found in other passages wherein 
Bernaldei speaks of the formation of Columbus' scheme according 
to what the navigator had himself told him. Should one rely on the 
language used by Columbus in 1496, the originator of the discovery 
of America would appear to be, not the great Florentine astronomer, 
Toscanelli, but the hoaxer. Sir John Mandeville I 

41 See on this point chap, vl, sect 4, and note 156. 


Martins ; and that he borrowed from that letter not one of 
the geographical and cosmographical ideas he subsequently 
enunciated. Therefore Columbus had no object in main- 
taining silence on the relations he is supposed to have had 
with Toscanelli. 



We have just passed in review what may be called the 
extrinsic proofs of the non-existence of the relations attri- 
buted to Toscanelli with Martins and Columbus, and this 
examination has led us to observe the complete absence 
of any of those indications and circumstances which usually 
accompany the production of real facts. Nevertheless this 
is merely a negative result Surprising though it may be 
that so important a fact as we are discussing should have 
left no trace behind, it is not impossible; and, in order to 
complete and clinch the argument drawn from this circum- 
stance, we must demonstrate, by producing intrinsic proofs, 
that the fact alleged bears within itself the presumption of 
its own impossibility. That is what we propose doing in 
the following paragraphs. 

I. — The Question of the Route to the Indies was 

NOT yet raised IN 1474. — If the letter to Martins be read 
with care, a singular assertion will at once be noticed. In 
June 1474 — the date of the letter — Toscanelli tells Martins 
that the route to the Indies by the west is far shorter than 




the one the Portuguese are seeking by coasting along Guinea. 
That evidently means, in the opinion of the writer, that the 
Portuguese are seeking to reach the Indies by doubling the 
African Continent ; that they are wrong in adhering to 
this route, and that they would do better to follow the 
setting sun. Now, at that date, the Portuguese had not the 
faintest idea of sailing around Africa, and still less of going 
to the Indies. Let us pause for a moment on this point, 
which it is important to establish. 

II.— Before Joao II the Portuguese only sought 
the India of Prester John. — There is scarcely any 
statement that has been more frequently repeated than 
the one which attributes to Prince Henry the Navigator, 
who undertook his first expeditions in 1415, the pre- 
conceived design of going to the Indies by way of the 
east. With very rare exceptions, all who have in any 
manner occupied themselves with the discoveries made 
by the Portuguese have shared in this error, which is 
to be found among the most authoritative writers, and 
even under the learned pen of Mr Harrisse, who is 
generally so sure of his facts. 6 * 

a Harrisse : The Diplomatic History of America, 1897, p. 7.— Major r 
Prince Henry, p. 45.— Fiskc : The Discovery 0/ America, vol. I., p. 318. — 
Ravenslein : Journal of the First Voyage of da Gama, p. 16. — Beazley : 
Henry the Navigator, pp. 139-143. Mr Beazley credits Prince Henry 
wilh ideas that are quite modern. He attributes to him not simply 
the intention to circumnavigate Africa, but to discover its true shape, 
and to determine its place in the world. See also the Geographical 
Journal of May 1894, p. 399, where Mr Beazley speaks of Prince 
Henry's intention to send ships directly from Lisbon to the Malabar 


Azurara, who is to-day our only authentic source of 
information on the enterprises of Prince Henry, has 
given a long list of all the reasons by which he was 
actuated," and therein occurs no mention of sailing 
around Africa, of the route to the Indies, of the spice 
trade, which alone could have suggested the search 
for that route. This silence of the old Portuguese 
chronicler upon so important a point — a silence likewise 
maintained by Barros, who, like Azurara, loves to dwell 
on the motives which influenced Prince Henry 6 * — would 
alone be enough to show that there is no ground for 
attributing this great scheme to the promoter and 
organiser of the Portuguese discoveries, even if the very 
history of these discoveries did not also bear out this 
view. In fact, throughout the whole active and brilliant 
period of the reigns of the first princes of the House of 
Avis — Joao I, Duarte, and Alfonso V — one cannot 
mention a single event or recall a solitary instance that 
warrants, not the deliberate statement, but the mere 
suggestion that, at that period, the Portuguese had turned 
their attention towards the East Indies. All that has 
been said on this subject comes from a confusion of terms, 
which it would have been easy to clear up if authors, 
instead of copying one another, had taken the trouble 
to refer to original sources. 

The Portuguese did indeed seek, with remarkable 
ardour and perseverance, the road to India throughout 
all Prince Henry's life, and for long afterwards ; but it 
was not the road to the East Indies: what they did 

w Azurara : Chronica, chap. vii. 

M Barros : Da Asia, Dec. I., Book I., chap. ii. 


seek for was the India of Prester John, a very different 
thing, as will soon appear. 

In the Middle Ages the term India had a very 
vague and elastic meaning. Several Indias were recog- 
nised. There were Upper India, called also the Third 
or Anterior India, which lay beyond the Ganges ; Middle 
or Secondary India, comprised between the Ganges and 
the Indus ; and First or Lesser India, which embraced 
Arabia, Abyssinia, and all the region about the Red 
Sea. 6 * But these terms signified nothing definite, and 
the position of the various Indias strangely differed 
according to the periods when, and the persons by whom, 
they were mentioned. At the time of Prince Henry, and 
for long afterwards, the Portuguese understood by India 
chiefly the region where ruled Prester John, a famous 
personage whose legend was current in Europe since 
the Twelfth Century. He was spoken of as a potentate 
who extended his power over the far countries of the 
East, who was now placed here and then there, but 
always within the limits of India. After having for long 
made this personage journey from land to land, he was 
vouchsafed a definite country in Ethiopia, which, accord- 
ing to the notions of the time, also formed part of India. M 

" D'Avezac : Relation dcs Mongols, p. 546, and the authors he 
quotes. Humboldt : Examen critique, voL I., p. 99. 

M Tke India of Africa. — In the Middle Ages Ethiopia was confused 
with India; or, rather, Ethiopia was placed in India. The Arabs had 
adopted this view, and it was from them the Portuguese obtained 
their notions of distant Africa. " I will observe," says Abulfeda, " thai 
Sofala is also a country of India" {G^ografhie, vol. I., p. 223). In 
his learned introduction to this geographical work M. Reinaud shows 
thai the Arab writers of the Middle Ages, and all those who followed 
them, took the term India to mean Ethiopia (loc. cit., Introduction, 


III. — Proof from Prince Henrv's Acts.— At the 
beginning of the Fifteenth Century opinions were fairly agreed 
on this subject, and the Portuguese, who had heard the Moors 
and Arabs speak of a Christian monarch in distant Africa 
whose renown and power were great, never doubted but that 
this mysterious potentate was Prester John, whose legend had 
seized a firm hold on all imaginations. The fixed determi- 
nation to enter into relations with so important a personage, 
and to contract with him an alliance which should permit 
of the spreading of the benefits of Christianity over the 

p. ccxlvii.). The Portuguese could, moreover, find the same opinion 
expressed in the works of Christian authors. Towards 1330 Friar 
Jordanus locates Prester John in the Third India, describing him as the 
Emperor of the Ethiopians (Mtrabilia descripta, in the Collection 
dt voyages of the Socie'te' de g^ographie, vol. IV. (1839), p. 56, Major's 
edition, London, 1873, p. 41). Some years later, in 1338, the Franciscan, 
Jean de Marignollc, sent to the East by Pope Benedict XI, also speaks 
of Ethiopia as being the country of Prester John {apud Yule : Cathay, 
p. 348). In the middle of the Sixteenth Century Gdmara thus expresses 
himself on this point : " Ethiopia, which is to-day the kingdom of Prester 
John, is called India because it has been peopled by nations having come 
from India " (Histdria gctienii, Book I., chap, xviii.). He strangely adds : 
"This is what led Aristotle and Seneca to say that India was near 
to Spain " (Hid.). Barros supplies us with a still clearer text. He 
writes; "In the time of King Joao II, whenever India is mentioned, 
Prester John is included among its greatest potentates" (Da Asia, 
D. I., Book III., chap. iv.). About the same period, Munster, describ- 
ing the kingdom of " Priest John, commonly called Prester John," 
informs us that there are two Indias, "1'une en Asie, l'autre en Ethiope" 
(Cosmograpkie, edition of 1552, p. 1426). Finally, Basnage remarks that 
the old historians of the Church "donnent souvent le nom d'Indes i 
l'Ethiopic" (Hist, dts Juifs, vol. VII., p. 108). 

This geographical error was not dissipated until the expeditions 
of King Joao II. On the different meanings of the word India in the 
Middle Ages, see Yule's Marco Polo, vol. II., notes 7, p. 419, and 1, 
p. 425. See also Major's notes to his edition at Jordanus. 


barbarous regions of Africa, and should assure to Portugal 
the political advantages which were bound to accrue from 
that alliance, became one of the chief incentives to Prince 
Henry's undertakings. The Portuguese had but a vague 
notion of the exact position of the empire of Prester John ; 
but the uncertain and confused information they had 
obtained on the subject led them to believe that on one 
side this empire was bounded by the Atlantic, and that 
it might be possible to discover on the Western Coast of 
Africa some country that was dependent upon it, through 
which it would be possible to reach the mysterious potentate 
with whom they were desirous to establish relations." 

It is in this singular geographical conception that we 

47 Whether it came from the Arabs or not, the impression that the 
authority of Prester John extended far to the westward was very 
widely spread in the Fifteenth Century. In the map of the world 
of the Borgia Museum, dating from the beginning or middle of the 
Fifteenth Century, the kingdom of Prester John is placed in a fork 
of the Nile, and extends to the Straits of the Columns of Hercules 
and the Gold River. The chaplains of Cethancourt, speaking of the 
expedition he meditated to Cape Bojador, say that there intelligence 
may be obtained of Prester John {Hist, cie la Prem. aVcouvcrte, etc., 
chap, liii., Major's edition, London, 1872, p. 94). See what Barros 
says on this subject {Da Asia, D. I., Book III., chap, iv.), and Pacheco 
{Esmeralda, chap, i.) 

If the Portuguese erred in extending the domination of Prester 
John to the Atlantic, it nevertheless appears certain thai the Kthiopians 
or Abyssinians have, in ancient times, swarmed westward, as well as 
towards the south and north, (or modern explorers have found their type — 
more or less altered by crossing —as far away as Scnegambia, in Upper 
Gambia, and even close to the Ocean (see hereon, R. Verneau : 
Les Migrations des Ethiopians, Paris, Masson, 1899, pp. 9 and 20). 
It is therefore not surprising that the dwellers on the coast, with 
whom the Portuguese had relations, should have heard speak of the 
sovereign of East Africa, in whom the Portuguese thought they recog- 
nised Prester John. 


e for the key of many of the expeditions ordered 
bjr Prince Henry, and there is every reason to believe 
ttat this prince died before he was aware of his mistake. 
Ncoe the less, it must be remembered that it was to this 
error that the Portuguese owe the long succession of dis- 
coveries which carried them to the Gulf of Guinea and 
tar beyond it. 

The first instruction the prince was wont to give to 
hit navigators was always to inquire diligently for Prester 
John and of the best way to reach him. M We know, more- 
over, that they carried out their orders, and that the infor- 
m*tu>n gained was encouraging, since, more than once, 
rW Portuguese thought they were on the point of attaining 
the goal for which they were in search. For instance, in 
1 4 < c . an Indian interpreter was sent out with Gomes, 
v fa| tB UtplflM the Gambia, in case, as he said, 
"we should reach the Indies."* 

IV,— PROOr BY THR BULL OF 1454.— Without pausing 

t< ,-.■ i.l.iwtt .ill th* dtOUHtnCM which show that Prince 

WW hud the intention of going to the East Indies 

1 ■■■■ 1, ami that the chief object which occupied 

itinftmtfam VftJ to enter into communication with Prester 

,»rrlve at a document which clearly states what 

Itw IVitiiguesc had in view: the Bull of Pope Nicholas V, 

1454. Hy this famous Bull, the 

|,.nnt,»m Ii.mJ bJ || the Mnltontl concessions made by the 

tfl tho Portuguese, Pope Nicholas sanctions all 

01 to be made by the Portuguese in the 

., . . GfcM*%*hBatWt«*>Mi Beailey"* (ranslation, London, 

IMS *il I , t-. 11. «•• •!*> |v »». 

Ami AwraAjM* GW a w , p. 19. 



hitherto unknown portions of the world they have been 
exploring for twenty-five years, and reserves to their activity 
the entire region from capes Nun and Bojador to Guinea 
and " the distant shores of the south." As in all documents 
of this nature, the Sovereign Pontiff states the motive for 
his act, and explains that the gift he makes to Portugal 
is justified by Prince Henry's endeavours to open a path 
to regions hitherto unknown, as well towards the south 
as towards the west, and to get into communication with 
"the people of India who are reputed to honour Christ," 
in the hope of " bringing them to the aid of the Christians 
against the Saracens and other enemies." *° 

Here, drawn up in plain terms and without the possibility 
of equivocation, is the end sought by the Portuguese. It was 
not to what we now call the Indies they were feeling their 
way; it was the India of Africa, the India of Prester John, 
where dwelt a Christian people, whose help it was hoped to 
obtain against the pagan populations of the Continent— that 
is to say, it was the Ethiopia of the ancients, the Abyssinia 
of to-day. Of the Indies properly so-called, of sailing around 
Africa, there is not a word in this Bull, which is, as we have 
already said, the fundamental deed of the concessions from 
the Holy See to Portugal — the deed to which the Popes, 
successors to Nicholas V refer, in order to confirm its 
conditions. 81 

■ This well-known Bull is to be found in al! the diplomatic collections. 
Dumont, vol. III., part I., p. aoo. — Leibnitz: Codex, vol. ]., No. 165. — 
The Bullarum collecfio of Lisbon, 1707, pp. 18-20. — Atguns documentos, 
Lisbon, 1893, pp. 14-16. 

11 True meaning of the concessions qt anted by the Bull. — In his 
Diplomatic History of America, Mr Harrisse has read the Bull of 1454 
quite differently to us. According to him the Pope concedes to Alfonso V 


On the death of Prince Henry the expeditions of the 
Portuguese towards the south for some time underwent a 
check King Alfonso, notwithstanding his surname of 

all the regions discovered or to be discovered south of capes Bojndor 
and Nun towards Guinea, as also all those that are "on the south coast 
and on the east side" (Joe. cit., p. 6). On the next page Mr Harrisse says 
that, as this Bull mentions the south and east "of Africa," we must con- 
clude that already, in 1454, that is to say, thirty years before the expedition 
of Bartholomew Diaz, the Portuguese entertained the project of doubling 
the African Continent to the south, and of attaining by this route what 
they called the regions of India {loc. cit., p. 7). 

In support of this view the eminent critic cites a passage of the 
Bui!, beginning with the words : per huiusmodi Oceanum, etc. (p. 158). 
But this passage does not occur in the granting portion of the document : 
it is in that part which recites the efforts made by the prince to make 
known the ocean as well towards the south as towards the east. Here 
is given a translation of the entire passage : — 

"The Infante, knowing for a long while that never, or at least 
within the memory of man, had this ocean been explored by navi- 
gators, either towards the south or east, and was consequently un- 
known to us Westerners, who knew nothing certain respecting these 
regions and the people who inhabit them, thought he should be 
doing a work pleasing to God in devoting his efforts to making navi- 
gable this ocean as far as the country of the Indians, who are said 
to worship the name of Christ (usque ad Indos qui Christi nomen colere 
dicuntur), in order to get them to lend aid to the Christians against 
the Saracens." 

It will be seen that there is no question here of the southern or 
eastern shores of Africa. What the Bull means by Oceanum mart versus 
meridionales et orientals plagas is that portion of the Atlantic which 
washes the coasts of what was then called Guinea, and which, south of 
Cape Verde, trends, and afterwards directly runs, eastward. It must 
not be forgotten that in 1454, the date of the Bull, the Portuguese had 
not yet penetrated this part of the Atlantic, and that the Gulf of Guinea, 
which they could only reach by bearing east, was to them really an 
Oriental sea. Mr Harrisse completes his quotation with the following pas- 
sage, which appears to justify his point of view : Declaratio, turn sofifam, 
turn reliquam A/ricam, a promontoriis Baradoc et Nam ad Guineam 
■vel etiam ultra ad Antarcticutn, omniaque adjacentia Saracenorum 


African, had his views turned elsewhere than towards 
discoveries; and the traders to whom he left the duty of 
continuing the exploration of the African coast carried it 
out with but little energy. They did go down, however, as 
far as the Guif of Guinea, but occupied themselves more with 
trade than discovery, and they do not seem to have given a 
single thought to Prester John and his Indian Empire. 

V. — Proof by the Treaty of 1479.— In the last years 

Regno Lusitania corona esse addicta (Mainard, vol. III., part III., p. 70). 
But this passage does not form any pan whatsoever of the Bull ; it is 
merely a portion of the summary which the editor of the Mainard's 
Bullarium, consulted by Mr Harrisse, placed at the head of the 
document to indicate its contents. It is not found in any other repro- 
ductions of thai Bull. The part of this document mentioning the dona- 
tion to the Portuguese shows, moreover, that it is only a question of 
Western Africa. 

The Pope, in fact, after completing the enumeration of Prince 
Henry's discoveries in "the seas and maritime regions situated towards 
the south and the Antarctic Pole," as far as " the province of Guinea " 
and up to " the mouth of a great stream, which is thought to be the 
Nile" (the Senegal), declares that, on account of these deeds, all King 
Alfonso has already occupied or acquired, or shall in the future occupy 
and acquire, belongs to the said king, his successors, and the Infante. 
Further on the Pope particularises that this donation includes the 
"conquests beginning at the capes" Bojador and Nun, up to and 
including all " Guinea " {conquestam quant a capitibus de Bojador ct de 
Ham usque per lolam Guineam), and extending thence beyond towards 
the distant shores of the south {el ultra versus Mam meridiomiUm 
plagant extendi). There is undoubtedly here mention of the distant 
shores of the south and of the regions of the Antarctic Pole as direction 
or as the limits to Ihe field of Portuguese exploration ; but what the 
Bull says of Guinea and of the Nile shows that we cannot attribute any 
definite geographical meaning to these expressions, which betray the 
uncertainty then existing respecting the shape and size of Southern 
Africa i above all, one cajinot certainly see therein an allusion lo the 
route to the Indies. 


of the reign of Alfonso V, in 1479 and 1480, Portugal ; 
Castile, after a disastrous war, concluded the famous Treaty 
of Alcacovas, which defined, for the first time, the field 
reserved for the future discoveries of the two powers, and 
which consequently shows what were then their aspirations 
in this direction. By this treaty, which settled the question 
of the respective rights of the two crowns over the territories 
of the African Continent and the Atlantic islands, the objects 
of their rivals claims, Castile abandoned to the Portuguese all 
the vast African region known under the vague terra of 
Guinea, as well as all the isles discovered or to be dis- 
covered in that quarter, excepting only the Canary group, 
which Portugal relinquished. 82 From the point of view now 
occupying us, this is all that can be found in this deed, 
wherein not once is mentioned Southern Africa or the 
Indies. Of the vast Atlantic region extending to the 
west beyond Cape de Verde Islands, the Canaries, and the 
Azores, not a word is said in this first partition between the 
two powers about new lands already known, or whose 
existence was even suspected. 63 

82 The treaty of 1479, drawn up the 4th September at Alcacovas, 
signed by Portugal at Evora on the 8th September, and definitely by 
Castile on the 6th March at Toledo, has never been printed in its 
entirety. From documents and information which Senhor Basto, the 
obliging keeper of the Archives of la Torre do Tombo, has been good 
enough to communicate to me, this treaty comprises two deeds; one 
dealing with the dynastic question ; the other, with the general condi- 
tions for peace. The clause in this second deed, stipulating the cession 
of Guinea to Ihe Portuguese and the Canaries to Castile, is found in 
Atguns documenloi, Lisbon, 1891, pp. 45-46. Senor F. Duro has most 
kindly sent me a text of the same clause from a Spanish source, which 
he obtained from the Vargas Ponce collection. 

w The Treaty of 1479.— The Portuguese historians and Spanish 



Here we have, it would seem, decisive proof that at the 
date of the signing of this treaty, 1479, the Portuguese 
were meditating neither circumnavigating Africa nor seek- 

authors who give an account of this treaty, above all Ruy de Pina, who 
is the first to mention it, are unanimous in saying that by this trans- 
action was reserved to Portugal the right to continue its discoveries 
and conquests from capes Nun and Bojador as far as and including the 
countries of the Indians (Dos cabos de Noun e do Bojador aUe as 
yndios.— Pina: Chronica d'AJfimso 'V, chap, cvi., in Coll. de Hires 
inedilos, etc., vol. I., p. 591). If this phrase, or any equivalent expression 
were found in the treaty, there would be grounds for believing that 
by this deed the Portuguese secured to themselves the right to go to 
the East Indies, and that, consequently, they were meditating doing 
so at least as early as that period. But neither the word including, 
which appears to have been interpolated by Barros, nor the words 
underlined, which come from Pina, and which every subsequent writer 
has copied, are to be found in the treaty. Vet no one could have known 
better than Ruy de Pina the real conditions of the treaty. However, 
this chronicler wrote under King Manoe!, when the Portuguese had 
already reached the Great Indies, and we can well understand he 
unconsciously slipped into his summary of the treaty a condition 
which was not textual ly inscribed therein, but which he could 
reasonably consider to be implicitly meant, for in less than eight years 
from the signature of the treaty the Portuguese had doubled the 
southernmost point of the African Continent, and had turned the bows 
of their caravels towards the East Indies. 

But at the time the treaty was discussed and concluded there was no 
such question raised. For long the Portuguese had entertained the 
hope of finding a way of communication with the empire of Prester 
John, and the further south they went the firmer grew their hope. For 
them, in t479 as in 1474, and in 1471, when they crossed the line 
for the first time, all the undefined region called Guinea, whose limits 
stretched southward to a point unknown, was the portion of Africa 
which must necessarily touch that Indian Empire they had sought, 
and to which they could now think they were on the point of attaining. 
It was just precisely that part of the Continent which Castile abandoned, 
the part between capes Nun and Bojador, the starting-point of Portu- 
guese discoveries, and the unknown region of Guinea— -or bordering on 
Guinea — that was supposed to be occupied by the Indians who, : 


ing a route to the East Indies, either by the east or by the 
west. If, four or five years beforehand, as results from the 
letter to Martins, King Alfonso already sought to reach the 
East indies, and if he were so determined to find a way 
leading thither that he had been contemplating taking the 
one, then absolutely unknown, to the west, it is evident this 
scheme must have been very dear to him, and he would 
scarcely have failed to include in the treaty some reserva- 
tion thereon, especially if he had the intention of crossing 
the Atlantic, where everyone then thought undiscovered 
lands and islands existed. The Catholic kings would have 
made no difficulty about signing a clause to this effect ; for at 
the time they made no claim to the new regions, and were 
only anxious that the new dynasty they had founded in 
Castile should be acknowledged by the one power capable 
of raising opposition to it 

On the accession of King Joao II, in 1481, the plans of 
Prince Henry were revived, and the search for Prester )ohn 
and a road to his dominions was renewed. It does not fall 
within our scope to relate here the history of those memor- 
able expeditions which, within a few years, revealed to the 
Portuguese that the Empire they had long sought was on 
the east coast of Africa ; that it could only be reached by 

it was asserted, knew Christ. When, therefore, the Caslilians engrossed 
on the treaty that what belonged or might belong to the Portuguese 
was all they had discovered and might discover within the limits of 
Guinea, they were in fact withdrawing from the whole of Africa, and, 
unconsciously, opening to their rivals the road to India. In the light 
of these considerations, wc may understand how Pina came to say 
that the treaty of 1479 recognised the right of the Portuguese to the 
whole region extending to the country of the Indians r aUe osyndies, 
three words which, as we have seen, are not in the treaty, but which 
well indicate its scope. 


sailing round the Continent; that they had no longer any 
interest in going there ; and that, henceforth, all their 
efforts must be turned towards the discovery of the East 
Indies. All these facts are well known, and would add 
nothing to the preceding argument — namely, that the idea 
of going to the Indies by the sea-route never took shape 
with the Portuguese until their discoveries had brought 
them to the coasts of Southern Africa. 

VI. — Error respecting the Spice Trade.— Further- 
more, why should the Portuguese have sought the route 
to India in 1474? To engage in the spice trade? So it 
is clearly supposed. But that trade did not then exist 
in Portugal, or was of no importance. We do not find a 
word in Azurara and the chroniclers who have related 
the early enterprises of the Portuguese along the African 
coast indicating that they were interested in the spice 
trade. In fact, before the discovery of the Bight of Benin, 
where the Portuguese found malaguetta, or Guinea pepper, 
which subsequently became an important article of barter 
with the negroes, they appear to have known no other 
spice but Indian pepper. That was at least the only spice 
they consumed in any quantity. To imagine that in 1474 
they attached such importance to the spice trade, as to 
be ready to face the dreaded passage of the Atlantic in 
order to reach the spice-producing countries, is to make 
a supposition contrary to all likelihood, and flatly at vari- 
ance with the best established facts. In 1474 the Portuguese 
thought no more about the spice trade than of the route 
to the Indies, whether by the east or by the west. They 
had no motive for so doing; and the real incentives only 


originated with their discovery of Southern Africa, and the 
wide development of commercial interests which resulted 
from that discovery. It was only under King Joao II 
that the evolution took place. It was then alone that the 
Portuguese began to take an interest in the spice trade, 
and understood how important it was for them to find 
a route which should lead to the true Indies, now at last 
distinguished from the Indies of Prester John. How then 
could Toscanelli, at the period he is alleged to have written, 
have attributed to the Portuguese the intention of seeking 
at that time the route to the Indies?" This assertion 
alone suffices to betray the hand of a man who ill knew 
the story of Portuguese discoveries, and who attributed 
to them in 1474 a design they could not then have had, 
and which in fact they only formed much later on. 

VII. — Alfonso's Political Combinations. — This 

date of 1474 recalls another observation. It carries us 
back to a period when Alfonso was thinking of anything 
rather than discoveries and maritime explorations. In 

"* Ximenes, who was somewhat puzzled by the assertion in the 
letter to Martins respecting the search for the route to the Indies in 
1474, supposed that, even at that date, the Portuguese were interested 
in the spice trade {Del Vecchio e del Nuovo gnomoru fiorentino, 
Florence, 1757, note 4, D., to his reproduction of the letter). Barros e 
Vasconcellos, in his letter to the /eurnal des Savants, 1758, was the 
first to point out this error. "It must be remarked," he says, "it was 
only after the Portuguese had penetrated beyond Guinea that the 
kings of Portugal proposed to themselves the discovery of a way to 
the Indies (p. 9 of the reprint). ..." "This monarch (Joao II) is the 
first who made known his views on trade with the spice-producing 
Indies" {ibid., p. 10). This passage is quoted because of its date ; the 
error it shows is patent. 



1469 he had farmed out the commerce and also the naviga- 
tion of Guinea, and only indirectly did he occupy himself 
with those distant expeditions which had enthralled his 
uncle Prince Henry, and which had, at one time, greatly 
interested himself. He was now occupied by other thoughts : 
he aimed at uniting the two crowns of Portugal and Castile 
upon his own head by marrying his niece, the Princess 
Joanna, daughter and heiress of King Henry IV of Castile. 
This political scheme, which led, on King Henry's death 
in December 1474, to a long and cruel war between the 
two countries, ceaselessly occupied all the attention and 
resources of King Alfonso until the moment events obliged 
him to renounce it and sign with the Catholic kings the 
treaty of 1479. Neither in 1474, nor in the immediately 
preceding and following years, was the King of Portugal 
in a position to occupy himself with the discovery of a 
new sea route, or to devote to that discovery a portion 
of his resources. There is not a word, moreover, as we 
have already said, bearing on this subject to be found in 
contemporary documents or among the writings of the 
Portuguese authors of that time. 

VIII.— Curious Geographical Error.— But, admit- 
ting that King Alfonso had conceived the vast design 
of crossing the Atlantic in order to reach the land of 
spices, and that in furtherance of his scheme he had con- 
sulted one of the most learned scholars of Italy, can it be 
conceived that this scholar should reply to such a demand 
by a letter like the one sent to Fernam Martins? For, 
if we closely examine this famous letter, we shall find 
therein nothing that denotes it comes from one of the 


highest scientific authorities of his time. Apart from some 
information contained in the post-scriptum, to which we 
shall revert, Toscanelli does not vouchsafe the king any 
serious advice on the question submitted to his judgement ; 
he simply contents himself with a glowing description of 
the riches of the countries in the Far East, and enters into 
details as childish as exaggerated, which are surprising 
coming from the pen of a scholar accustomed tothe methods 
of the exact sciences ; he solely borrows from Marco Polo, 
whose account was already more than a century and a half 
old, when he might have drawn from the reports of Odoric 
de Pordenone, who had dwelt several years in China, 
and who was back in Italy in 1330 ; of Bartolommeo Fioren- 
tino, who, in 1424, returned from India, where he had 
travelled for twenty-four years ; of Nicold di Conti, who 
spent forty years in the East, and who had returned to 
Florence in 1439; and of many others all well known in 
Florence, which was at that period the intellectual centre 
of Italy, and all rich with information on the distant East 
— information more recent and quite as authentic as that 
supplied by Marco Polo. Is this what a king like Alfonso 
ought or could have expected from a man like Toscanelli? 

Nor is this all. In sending to the King of Portugal 
geographical information borrowed from Marco Polo, a 
traveller of the Thirteenth Century, the author of the 
letter to Martins leads him into error. Thus, in order to 
encourage Alfonso V in the undertaking he was contem- 
plating, he describes the countries and cities that are sure 
to be found at the end of the journey : the great province 
of Cathay, the usual residence of the Great Khan, supreme 
emperor of tributary kings ; that of Mangi, which lies 


adjacent ; the wealthy city of Zayton, and the beautiful city 
of Quinsay. Now, all these denominations belong to the 
period of the Mongol power in China, founded by Chinghis 
Khan in 1206, and ended in 1368 by the advent of the Ming 
dynasty. It was during this period that Plan Carpin, 
Ruisbrock, and Marco Folo visited China, and from them 
Europe learned the names of Cathay and the other places 
mentioned in the letter to Martins. But, in 1474, the date 
of this letter, more than a century had elapsed since 
China had been governed by a Great Khan, since the 
country had been called Cathay, since the province of Mangi 
had ceased to exist, and that the cities of Cambelec, 
Zayton, and Quinsay were known by other names. All 
these denominations had disappeared, and had even left no 
trace behind ; w so that, had the impossible journey advised 
by Toscanelli taken place, the Portuguese navigators would 
have found on the extreme Asiatic coast not a spot bearing 
the designations which the renowned astronomer had so 
complacently enumerated. The geography of the author 
of the letter of 1474 was behindhand, therefore, by more 

w Mongol Denominations, — Not only, says Yule, were these old 
denominations forgotten ; it had also been forgotten that these cities, 
then known by new names, had ever had any others. We give the 
entire passage in which Yule describes the geographical transformation 
that followed the fall of the Mongol power : — " A dark mist has 
descended upon the farther East, covering Mangi and Cathay, with 
those cities of which the old travellers told such wonders, Cambaltc 
and Camay, and Zayton, and Chinkalan. And when the veil rises 
before the Portuguese and Spanish explorers, a century and a half 
later, those names are heard of no more. In their stead we have 
China, and Peking, Hangcheu, Chincheu, and Canton. Not only are 
the old names forgotten, but the fact that those places had been known 
before is utterly forgotten also" (Cathay and the Way Thither, London, 
1866, 2 vols, in 8", vol. I., pp. exxxiv. and exxxv.). 


than a whole century. It is idle to argue that these changes 
long remained unknown in Europe, for, let it be remembered, 
the author of the letter makes Toscanelli say that he dis- 
coursed with an ambassador from the Great Khan, and 
that from him he obtained much information concerning 
his country. We must, therefore, suppose this ambassador 
left Toscanelli under the impression that the Mongol geo- 
graphical names were still current in China as they 
were in the days of Marco Polo, and that the sovereign 
of that country still bore the Mongol title of Great Khan. 
This passage of the letter would alone suffice to substantiate 
the forgery. 

IX.— Origin of the Hypothesis as to the Possi- 
bility of a Passage to India by the West.— Let us 

now examine this document from the point of view of the 
cosmographical ideas it expresses. The letter to Martins 
is based on the hypothesis that the space to be traversed 
to reach the Indies by the west is neither great nor 
obstructed by any obstacle. These two ideas, though false, 
might, nevertheless, at the period have been considered 
important had they been new. But they were not the 
special property of Toscanelli, and they could convey no 
instruction to learned princes, as were the sons and grand- 
sons of Joao I, whose views were specially turned towards 
oceanic discoveries, and of whom one was so occupied with 
questions of cosmography and navigation that it has been 
possible to compare his palace, wherein he prepared his 
expeditions, to a naval academy. The notion of the possi- 
bility, and even the facility, of a passage to the Indies by leav- 
ing the coasts of Iberia or Africa was, so to speak, current in 


antiquity. Aristotle,*" Eratosthenes, 87 Posidonius,* 8 Seneca, 80 
and others had expressed it, and it is no exaggeration to 
put forward the statement that it never ceased to be present 
to the minds of Greek and Latin thinkers. The educated 
Portuguese knew as well as Toscanelli of this opinion, which 
under various forms was reproduced by the writers of the 

*• Aristotle's Opinion. — Aristotle speaks only of the opinion of those 
who believed that the country situated near the Columns of Hercules 
stretches itself to meet those which are towards India, and says this 
supposition is not incredible, for it relies on the fact that elephants 
are found at the two extremities of this zone (De Calo, II., 14, 15). 
Aristotle does not reject this view, but he is not in favour of it, for 
elsewhere he says that the whole habitable world can be crossed 
longitudinally, unless the immensity of the sea does not somewhere 
prevent it (Mckorologicorum, II., v. 13). Further on he says : "The parts 
which are outside India and the Columns of Hercules do not appear 
able, on account of the sea, to join one another in such manner that 
the whole habitable world should be absolutely continuous" (ibid., II., 
v. 15). Nevertheless, it results from these citations that Aristotle did 
not think the maritime space separating- the two ends of the habitable 
world was considerable; but he does not say, as Ferdinand Columbus 
makes him, that the space can be traversed in a few days (Historic, 
chap, vii, foL 14). 

17 According to Eratosthenes, the habitable zone of the earth formed 
a circle ; " so thai, if the extent of the Atlantic Ocean were not an 
obstacle, we might easily pass by sea from Iberia to India, still keeping 
in the same parallel " (Eratosthenes in Strabo, Book I., chap, iv., sect. 6 ; 
Hamilton's translation, page 101, London, 1854. — Bohn's Classical 

" " Starting from the west, one might, aided by a continual east 
wind, reach India in so many thousand stadia" (Posidom'ns in Strabo, 
Book II., chap, iii., sect. 6, p. 154; Hamilton's translation). 

** De quastionibus naturalibus, Introduction. — Strabo is also placed 
among those who thought that the passage to the Indies by the west 
was practicable ; but the passage from this author that is cited in this 
connection refers lo sailing round the surface of the habitable land by 
hugging its coasts, and not to circumnavigating the globe (see Book I., 
chap, i., sect. 8, pp. 7-8 ; Hamilton's translation). 



Middle Ages, and they had no call to be instructed on this 
subject. The letter to Martins, therefore, added nothing 
to what they already knew respecting the theories put 
forward by the ancients as to the possibility of passing from 
Europe into Asia by crossing the Atlantic. Is it the same 
with regard to the numerical ideas, that is to say, the infor- 
mation dealing with distances, to be found in this letter? 
We shall see that these, like the others, were also borrowed 
from antiquity. 

From the point of view of length, that is to say, from 
east to west, the ancients generally considered that the 
habitable world occupied an extent corresponding to a 
third of its total circumference. This was the classical, the 
traditional, opinion. Eratosthenes was among the first to 
express it ; Strabo adopted it, and for a very long while it 
prevailed. 70 But as Eratosthenes gave 252,000 stadia to the 
circumference of the earth, and reckoned there were 70,Soo 
stadia from the extreme west to the farthest east, following 
the parallel of greatest length through the habitable earth 
(which, according to the ancients, was the parallel of Athens, 
and in which Eratosthenes reckoned there were in all 
200,000 stadia), his Atlantic on the great circle or equator 
measured 181,200 stadia, 7 ' and on the 38th parallel, which 

70 Strabo, explaining Eratosthenes' measurements, says that, 
according to him, the Atlantic represents about two-thirds of the 
circumference of the globe along the parallel of Athens. The remaining 
third was formed by the continental space extending from Iberia to 
India eastwards (Book I., chap, iv., sect. 6, pp. 101-102; Hamitlorfs 

" The information Strabo records as to the length Eratosthenes 
gave to the inhabited world does not enable us to fix exactly what was 
that length. It is certain, nevertheless, that Eratosthenes reckoned 



approximately is that of Athens, about 129,000 stadia. 
Strabo increased this distance by reducing the length of 
the habitable world to 70,000 stadia, which therefore left an 
unknown ocean space of 182,000 stadia 73 along the great 
circle. Posidonius considerably reduced these measurements 
by giving the globe a circumference of 180,000 stadia— a 
measurement which Ptolemy adopted, and which ended by 
being generally accepted. But, though he reduced the 
circumference of the globe, Posidonius did not diminish 
the extent of the habitable world ; on the contrary, for he 
found that on the mean parallel, along which it was customary 
to measure it, the world had a length of 70,000 stadia, "half 
of the entire circle," says Strabo. 78 Here, then, we have an 
exact measure: from the western shores of the Old World 
to its eastern shores there are, about the 36th or 38th 
parallel, 7 * 70,000 stadia measured anyway, say 12,950,000 
metres, at the rate of 185 metres per stadium. Seneca, 

70,800 stadia from India 10 ihe Columns of Hercules, but to these 
70,800 stadia it would appear he added several other distances, which 
might together make 10,000 stadia ; so that for him the inhabited 
earth certainly measured 70,800 stadia, and, in all likelihood, still more 
{Strabo, Book I., chap, iv., sect. 5, pp. ICO'IOI \ Hamilton's translation). 

■ Strabo, Book II., chap. 1 

. 6, pp. 170- 17 1 ; Hamilton's trans- 

T) Strabo, Book II., chap, hi., sect. 6, p. 154 ; Hamilton's translation. 

■ The ancients measured the inhabited earth along Ihe parallel 
of Rhodes or of Athens, and, as on that latitude the earth's circum- 
ference is far less than on the equator, the 70,000 stadia of Posidonius 
fully made up the half of the circle, as Strabo says. Whatever may be 
the parallel of which he speaks, Posidonius says formally that a vessel 
setting out from the extreme west, and making exactly 70,000 stadia, 
would reach the Indies {Strabo, Book II., chap, in., p. 154, sect. 6; 
Hamilton's translation). 


without giving figures, thought that only a few days' 
sailing would bring a ship from Iberia to the Indies. 75 

X.— The Letter to Martins is based on the System 
OF MARINUS OF TYRE. — Towards the end of the first 
century a cosmographer — not one of whose works has 
unfortunately reached us, though from Ptolemy's writings we 
are sufficiently acquainted with them — Marinus of Tyre 
introduced a considerable change into the measurements of 
Posidonius. He accepted the measurement of 180,000 stadia 
for the circumference of the globe, but extended considerably 
that of the known surface, which he increased to 225 degrees 
out of the 360, thus leaving to the unknown space occupied 
by the ocean only 135 degrees, 78 and even this interval 
might be reduced to 130 degrees by checking Marinus' own 
calculations as reported by Ptolemy." 

" " What distance is there from the extreme coasts of Spain to 
those of India ? Scarcely a few days' sailing with a favourable wind " 
Uii quailionibui naturalibus, Introduction). Santa rem, and, after 
him, Mr bourne, have thought that Seneca intended to speak of the 
■atlwnrd route ; but, to say the least, this opinion is highly disputable. 

" "Mnrlnim of Tyre," says Ptolemy, "enclosed the length of the 
• iiitli iHlwr.n i«<i meridians, which embraced an interval of fifteen 
liMirt" (I'lolririy; Gepgrnphia, Book I., chap. xi.). Marinus divided 
il.n •arlli iiitn 360 degrees, as did Ptolemy, but he placed his meridians, 

■ ,: 14, frotn 15 degrees to 15 degrees, so that each interval hour "f the diurnal revolution of the globe. His first 

■ -,i-. tnknn at the Canary Isies, and his 15th meridian passed 

■ . ■. . 1., the capital of the Sines, i.e., the Chinese, through ThinK 

■■■> >, ih" eftpluth of India, that is to say, at the 15th hour, 

■ pMI j M that the interval which separated the two ends of 

'!<■ i',i. -.1 t 1 mh mu i) hours, or 13s degrees. 

If) QtMltanl Kuktrthix sur Marin de 7yrin his Recherc/ies tur 
i- ,.,-./,hh ,/,, .tHciini, vol. II., p, 51 1 and Letronne : CEuvres, 

■ i-tif tl CtmtgntMf, vol. I,, p. 318. 



Thus, fourteen centuries before ToscanelH, a cosmo- 
grapher, whom Ptolemy has made known by discussing his 
views at length, had given to the ancient world the same 
extension towards the east as the author of the letter to 
Martins, and had reduced, exactly as he has done, the space 
which divides the two extremities of this Continent We 
cannot see here a mere coincidence. The writer of this 
famous letter has evidently reproduced the system of 
Marinus of Tyre, just as he has reproduced the notions 
current in antiquity on the proximity of the regions of 
Eastern Asia with those of Western Europe, and the 
opinions held during the Middle Ages concerning the islands 
of the Atlantic. We cannot, in effect, admit that he has 
himself deduced the numerical information he puts forward 
from new data ; for, besides the fact that such data was 
wanting, a similar operation was one of considerable diffi- 
culty, and if ToscanelH had applied himself to it he would, in 
one way or another, have let it be seen that his letter had a 
scientific basis which was of his own construction, whereas he 
speaks and reasons throughout as though the data he 
interprets were known or accepted. It must therefore be 
admitted that the letter to Martins, in its scientific as in its 
geographical aspect, contains nothing new, and that the most 
important piece of information to be found in it, the only one 
that was then of any value, namely, that the width of the 
Atlantic was about 130 degrees, came from antiquity, as 
did also the notion of the possibility of traversing this 

This idea of the ancients, that the two extremities of the 

world were near enough to permit of crossing from one to 
the other, had been so frequently reproduced that it was not 



riter of the letter to Martins should 1 
known of it. But the same does not apply to the system of 
Marinus of Tyre. This cosmographer alone had put 
forward the theory that Eastern Asia stretched as far as the 
235th or 230th degree of longitude, thus leaving, as we have 
just seen, to the Atlantic a width of only 130 or 135 degrees, 
and Ptolemy is the only writer who records this opinion. 
Now, in 1474, the date of the letter to Martins, Ptolemy was 
not printed. 

It was not until 1475 that a Latin translation of his work, 
done hy Jacopo Angeb, was printed at Vicenza ; r " the Greek 
text only appeared still later. Angelo's translation dates, it 
is true, from 1409 or 141O; and, as this Hellenist dwelt at 
Florence, it is quite possible Toscanelli may have known of 
his work ; there were, moreover, Greek manuscripts of 
Ptolemy at Florence. Anyway, it was only through some 
inmuucript of Ptolemy that Toscanelii could have known, in 
1474, the opinions of Marinus of Tyre reproduced in the 
If li. 1 tn Martins. That he did so is not very probable, 
'.:. ■■■; would presuppose special labours on geo- 
. n>li\ hiJ 1.^raphy, whereas nothing warrants us in the 
belief that h'-.> .in.-lli [urtirularly occupied himself with those 

. Mi. 1. it, moreover, a conclusive argument to 

urevent us licln-vinn that Toscanelli knew what Ptolemy 

HHUJlJ of Marimw of Tyre. It is that the calculation 

.,1 ,ii i.unv* whereby Marinus arrived at reckoning 225 

bltWIMl the Sacred Cape of Iberia (Cape St 

« W« BV Hi MBIW lh;l1 " ,ere ' 5 an ^''i 00 OI Ptolemy which 
U*n llie ilriln »l I*** * tu < ul1 ,he bibliographers are agreed in 
MVlflH tfMrt Ii'i» 'l"« '■ <5 ' lhor * n crror or ■ fa,s i fication - "^i* pretended 
luu.nui l-ii.l.-my t»|.iohiibly the third or fourth. 



Vincent) and Sera, the capital of China, is erroneous, and 
that Ptolemy shows it to be so.™ Therefore, if it was 
Toscanelli who wrote the letter to Martins, we must choose 
between two alternatives : either he failed to understand 
the corrections of Ptolemy, or he has built up a scheme for 
crossing the ocean, and recommends its adoption to King 
Alfonso, on geographical data the inaccuracy of which has 
been demonstrated to him ; two hypotheses equally un- 
acceptable. One can, however, conceive that an individual 
who had not the knowledge of Toscanelli, but who had 
some interest in attributing to a scholar like him the views 
expressed in the letter to Martins, may have borrowed those 
which belonged to Marinus of Tyre, either from one of the 
editions of Ptolemy later than 1474, without having realized 
their small scientific value and the imprudence there was 
in attributing them to Toscanelli, or from Columbus himself, 
who knew of them through one of the editions of Ptolemy 
printed after 1475. 

Thus the more closely this famous letter is examined the 
more difficult does it appear that it could have been written 
in Florence in 1474 by a scholar in the position of Toscanelli. 
It will be seen shortly that these are not the only reasons 
which put in question the authenticity of this document. 80 

n Ptolemy : Geag., Book I., chaps, xi. to xv. 

™ Tke Portuguese and Ike Italian Cartographers. — Lampillas, who 
was the first to be surprised at certain assertions in the letter to Martins, 
has remarked that the Portuguese could not have thought, in 1474, of 
asking the advice of foreign cosmographers as to the navigation of the 
Atlantic, which they knew better than any one, considering that for fifty 
years they alone had sailed upon it, and had there made discoveries. 
(Lampillas : Saggio, etc., t. II., part I., p. 143). This objection is only a 
specious one. The Portuguese knew the Atlantic better than other 


sailors, but only in certain regions. To the west they had never 
beyond the meridian of the Azores, while that portion they would have to 
cross in order to reach the Indies was absolutely unknown to them. 
The Italians, on the contrary, though they might be unacquainted with 
the intervening maritime region, knew at least the terminal region, the 
goal of the journey, Cathay and the land of spices. On these countries 
they were well informed by their great travellers, by Marco Polo, Nicolo 
di Conti, and others, as well as by their merchants, who had long traded 
in the commodities of the East Far from ignoring the cosmographical 
and nautical science of the Italians, the Portuguese were constantly 
having recourse to it, for there is no doubt that it was by the help of 
Italian maps that they made most of their discoveries. Fifteen years 
before the letter to Martins they had commissioned Fra Mauro to 
furnish them with a map, which has become celebrated. I£ therefore, 
Alfonso really had the idea of going to the Indies by the west, it would 
not have been surprising had he applied to an Italian cartographer for 
some counsel and advice concerning his expedition. 



There remains a last remark to make as to the origin 
of the cosmographical ideas developed in the letter to 
Martins, and it is not among the least strange: Columbus 
gives them all as being his very o\vn. These ideas, we 
have just seen, resolve themselves into the following pro- 
positions : — 

The earth is smaller than is generally supposed. The 
Asiatic Continent stretches far more towards the east than 
Ptolemy imagined. 81 The maritime space between the two 
extremities of the inhabited world forms about one-third 
of the circumference of the globe, and does not exceed 
130 degrees. At the farther end of this space one first 
encounters the island of Cipangu, then the great Chinese 
provinces of Cathay and Mangi, the rich cities of Zayton, 

" These two ideas are not expressed in the letter to Martins, but they 
result from what is there stated. One cannot reduce to 16 spaces, or 
130 degrees, the space separating the two extremities of the ancient world, 
without giving Asia a considerable extension towards the east, and, if the 
third of the circumference of the globe only measures 26 spaces of 250 
miles each, the earth is smaller than Ptolemy made it. See the Second 
Part : The Map, chap. i. 



Quinsay, etc. Now, these are the very views of Columbu; 
himself, just as they are to be found in his various writ- 
ings, as we shall proceed to show. 

I.— Columbus' Measurement or the Earth : 
ALFRACAN.— During his residence in Portugal, Columbus 
appears to have sailed several times to the seas of Guinea, 
about which voyages very little is known, but which 
appear to have had a certain importance for him. It was 
during these voyages, which may be placed towards the 
year 1482 or 1483, 81 that he pretended to have made certain 
astronomical observations which hold a great place in his 
cosmographical notions. 

During the Middle Ages, and even until the discovery 
of America, we may say that there existed but one 
opinion on the measurement of the circumference of the 
globe and of the size of the inhabited world : it was the 
one which the then undisputed authority of Ptolemy had 
made prevail, namely, that the 360 degrees of the great 
circle, each degree consisting of 500 stadia, gave a circum- 
ference at the Equator of 180,000 stadia, or 22,500 miles, 
at the rate of 62 j miles to the degree, which was then 

w Columbus does not give the date of these voyages ; but as he speaks 
of the Fort of San Jorge da Mina, which was the goal of one of them, 
he cannot have gone earlier than the end of 1482, since it was only in 
that year that Diogo d'Azambuja, who built this fortress, sent back to 
Portugal the men who had worked on it. Markham supposes Columbus 
accompanied this navigator, who sailed at the end of 1481 (Columbus, 
p. 33). Fiske thinks he took part in the expedition under Santarem 
and Escobar in 1471 {The Discovery of America^ vol. I., p. 352). But at 
that period Columbus had not yet left his home. The voyages of 
Columbus to the coast of Guinea must have taken place from 1482 to 


the usual method of computation. 63 If we admit that the 
Olympic stadium equalled in round figures 185 metres,* 4 
this measurement will give to the circumference of the 
earth 33,300,000 metres instead of 40,007,520 ; K that is to 
say, Ptolemy diminished the circumference of the globe 
by nearly 7,000,000 of metres. 8 " 

If we believe Columbus, the observations he had made in 
the course of his voyages to Guinea led him to this conclu- 
sion : that the equatorial degree is equal to 563 miles, as the 
Arab astronomer Alfragan has demonstrated, says Columbus, 87 

** Uziclli : Toscanclli, No. I., p. 10. — Reckoning the degree at 62^ 
miles was taken from Ptolemy, whom all the world then followed. This 
cosmographer gave to each degree 500 stadia, of which 8 made an 
Italian mile; thus, 62$ miles, or 15S leagues. But in practice navigators 
calculated 4 miles to the league, making thus 60 miles to the degree. 

M Demonstration made by Th, Henri Martin in his learned Mimoirt 
sur la circonftrcnce du globe, which is generally accepted. We are not 
unaware that recent excavations have led to the supposition that the 
stadium to which ancient writers refer measures more ; but it would 
appear that this supposition is ill-founded. 

** M. Faye's conclusion, 1894. 

** Vivien de Saint-Martin has put forward the opinion that the stadium 
Ptolemy employed was a conventional one, different from the others 
(Hist, de lagSog., pp. 101-103). But if there is one fact well established 
to-day, it is that all the Greek computations of the circumference of the 
globe are based on a unique stadium (sec the above-cited Af/mot're of 
M. Th. Henri Martin, pp. 67-68). 

a Alfragan.— Cardinal d'Ailly, whom Columbus copies, calls by the 
name of Alfragan an Arab astronomer of the Ninth Century, whose real 
name was Ahmed Hen Kebir (Sedillot : Histoirc des Arabes, vol. II., p. 
269), but to whom was given, from the place of his birth, the surname of 
Al Fergani, whence comes Alfragan or Alfergan. Alfragan does, in 
effect, give a length of 5&§ miles to the degree, though not after his own 
observations, but from the measurement of a terrestrial meridian carried 
oul by order of the Caliph Almamoun, who reigned from 813 to 833. 
Almamoun, who had caused to be translated the Almagest and Geography 
of Ptolemy, wished to find out whether Ptolemy's measurements of the 


and, as he furthermore adds, the investigations made by 

earth were really correct, and with this object, about the year 827, he 
ordered two simultaneous experiments, which gave different results. 
According lo one, the degree contained ;6 miles ; according to the other, 
568 miles. "It was agreed," says Abulfeda, "to adopt the larger 
measurement" {GJog., vol. I., p. 17). There is some uncertainty as to 
the exact correspondence of this measurement with our modem ones, 
and the learned have been able to declare, some that it increased, 
others that it diminished, the volume of the earth. But the publica- 
tion of Abulfeda's Geography, with the learned commentaries of M. 
Reinaud, appears to clear up this point, by showing that the Arabs 
placed "an identical value" on the ancient and modern mile (G/og., 
vol. I., p. 18). Now, as it is very certain that what Abulfeda 
calls the modem mile is the Roman or Italian mile, which is equivalent 
to 1480 metres in round figures, the Arab standard of 56J miles, 
which give 10,400 miles for the circumference of the globe, corre- 
sponds to 30,192,000 metres. Therefore, notwithstanding their veneration 
for Ptolemy, who, according to them, gave the earth a circumference of 
24,000 miles, since they counted his degree at the rate of 66J miles 
(Abulfeda, Gtog., vol. 1., p. 17), or at -j\ stadia per mile, the Arabs 
really reduced the Alexandrine geographer's true measurement of the 
circumference of the earth, which he reckoned was 22,500 miles, at the 
rate of 8 stadia per mile. Their experiment, made between points 
which they erroneously believed were on the same meridian, could, 
moreover, only give wrong results. (See on this experiment : Reinaud, 
Introduction A la dog. d'Aboul/eda, pp. eclix. etseo.). 

Alfragan's work (Chronologica tt Astroiwmica eUmenta), translated 
by John of Seville (Hispalensis), in the Twelfth Century, was for the first 
time printed at Ferrara in 1493, and reprinted at Nuremburg in 1537. 
In 1590 there appeared another translation by Christman at Frankfort 
(Se"diIlot : Hist, des A robes, vol. II., p. 270). The edition of 1472, of which 
Bartoloni speaks {Ricerche, p. 133), never appears to have existed. 
Delambre has given a long analysis of Alfragan's work {Hist, de 
I'astronomie au moyen age, Paris, 1819, in 4°, pp. 63-69). It is in 
chapter x. that Alfragan gives the measurement of the earth. 

Columbus knew the measurement of Alfragan neither from his works 
printed nor in manuscript ; he has borrowed what he did know of them 
from Cardinal d'Aill^s Imago Murtdi, who had himself copied from 
Roger Bacon's Opus Majus (1367) all that is there said concerning 



the Jew, Joseph, 88 and himself have established. 80 In 
accepting this measurement, Columbus still further reduced 
the circumference of the earth as given by Ptolemy; since, 
calculating the equatorial degree at <fi\ miles, it meant 
reckoning the largest circumference of the globe at 20,400 
miles instead of the 22,500 miles of the Greek astronomer, 
and, of course, at still less in the latitude of the Canaries. 

Alfragan. It was Humboldt who exposed the plagiarism by publishing 
the two texts {Examen critique, vol. I., pp. 65-67). Columbus has anno- 
tated several passages of the Imago Mundi where mention is made of 
Alfragan, and of his reduction of the degree to 56! miles. See notes 4, 
28, 30, 31, 481, 490, and 491 to that work in the Raccotta Cotombiana 
(Pastille ai di R. d'Ailly, part i., v. 2, of the Scritti di Colombo in the 

" This Joseph, or Josepe, or Jose", was doctor and astronomer to 
King joao II. Barros and Las Casas add to his name the word Judio, 
According to Gar<;ao Stocker (Ensaio historko sobre a origin e progresso 
das mathematical en Portugal), he was a distinguished astronomer {apud 
Denis, Portugal, 1846, p. 135). Santos says it was he and Rodrigo who 
compiled the solar declension tables which were so useful to navigation 
(Memorial hilt., etc., etc., p. 163). It appears he was one of those to 
whom, later on, King Joao 1 1 sent the projects of Columbus for examina- 
tion, and that he was not favourable to them (Barros, D. I., Book III., 
chap. xi.). 

* Observations made by Columbus.— Columbus thus expresses himself 
on this point: — "in sailing frequently from Lisbon to Guinea, in the 
direction of the south, I noted with care the route followed, as is the 
custom with sailors. I took at different times the altitude of the sun, 
by means of a quadrant and other instruments, and I found, like 
Alfragan, that each degree corresponded to 363 miles, so that one may 
rely on that measure. We may therefore say that the equatorial cir- 
cumference of the globe is 20,400 miles. A similar result was obtained 
by Master Joseph, doctor and astronomer, who, with several more, was 
commissioned with this duty by the gracious King of Portugal." (Note 
to the Imago Mundi; Raccotta: Scritti, No. 490, Autograft, ibid.). It 
is clearly to this note that Ferdinand Columbus refers when, having 
cited the log-book of Columbus' first voyage, he says that his father has 

Cut mXCUu — -AXflXJt »f. -fr*-- 4*-i ^"f^i ,J 

rearihr nasr ±e fismmamical ohserva- 
TJnr :n ihksje Ac correctness of 
AJfo^sis Jm D tncn s- The ju&wg unsst be dearly, no; 
iir "iaer^e very ieiurim g ick *riiig ; Tie xaxthematical 
iar jcamnimng tikr zassBsammmz* or for check- 
CKmeatesic; jf x r eman idi Agree arc, more- 
qjmnticicaEi, -awi ± is 312c gemg too far to 
? due Cjittmous vas newer im x poscko to carry 
such ie&cue jffcentmnt& V<*rv ^cc&abcy, as Hum- 
bMtt suspects* 3e otmoaiast ixmseQf «i comparing the 
laattfeies jocaanoa -xitix dxc $ihu> 4fiȣ rsciaeuxjg, and that 
>*e ^jks vkostv*** by x -tmg: sriis ^c errooeous calcula- 
te^* iVfs*^ -ic *%a^ iLh»wr xsmated with the 
kqou :iw :hc **vrsa *» suwifcr Abt k was thought to 
X\ *i*c*i x v >raunc jctoss Alra^m: s »K. wiidk apparently, 
vA*^ Jt >o<net%K 3*?*^ 5t> ii$ ^etnectt. Arrtx«r, it remains 
Jw„ S *biwK*it|> :?hr .tt^ss mwicnc rsccroed bv the Arab 
*>ii vViv\:*vN . V ttocc i>c J*^t scsxljer by 3,000,000 
;nws :«\i.i ?V\C»tt* "fc&i vur*i :"• r^ be. thus bringing 
V i.Asv^tvv x v \\av.av jrn?C"vs >^>s than the actual 

.\.^v.v^x v.-^i wv vVi>*^ av««*c*« *: W* t^e^oentry remarked in 
v.. * ^ k wv. vV« v^ nVvkhi *v* a** 3*r*rscral oegrre corresponds to 

* ^-..-^^. . X *- S v^. ^,v , a ;\s . >^v*ms. xvC 1U pp. 325 and 566. 

\« „. , v , '. N ^— • J*^ «**i^-«r«*-^ y«/ Jw^r. — In order to 

.w, ^ v s- *. >wun\> n vV> sa^>woi :^: ASragan's mile was 

s . * ... .<- v\ a »K> V ***** vsse V.mself (Journal, 13th 

. , N ^x v v ^, v \Vx VN >N v ^ v : *^° metres. We there- 

v> X . %s.,^^ y s*vv a ,V $*aV tSr \v%>win£ figures :— 


Columbus attributed, with good cause, a very great 
importance to this measurement, for it formed the key- 
stone of his cosmographical system. 02 It is self-evident that, 
if he adopted Alfragan's figures at the time of his voyages 
to Guinea, these faulty calculations must, on account of the 
very error they contained, have exerted a great influence on 
the formation of his scheme. But there are no reasons to 
believe that such has been the case. These calculations, how- 
ever, furnished Columbus with one of the main features of 
the geographical conceptions he formed later on : the notion 
that the earth is not as large as it is believed to be,** 

Humboldt, who has gone into this question, has made a calculation 
which leads him to believe that, far from diminishing the circumference 
of the earth, Alfragan increases it {Examen critique, vol. 11., pp. 325- 
326). For different reasons, Vivien de Saint-Martin also thinks the 
Arabs increased the circumference of the earth {Hist, de la GSog., p. 
251). This opinion cannot prevail against the assertion of Abulfeda, 
who explains that the ancient mile— i.e. the Roman mile — and the 
modem mile — i.e. the Arab mile — have an identical value {Ge~o%. t. I., 
p. 18), and who bluntly declares that the Arabs diminish the extent of 
the circumference of the globe : "This extent," he says, "is greater with 
the ancients than with the moderns" {ibid., p. 17). The learned trans- 
lator and commentator of Abulfeda, M. Reinaud, says the same thing : 
"The circumference of a large circle, according to the ancients, was 
8000 parasangs ; according to the Arabs, it measured only 6800" 
(Introduction to the Ge'og. d'Abcul/eda, p. eclxxii.). Here it is not a 
question, as Vivien de Saint-Martin has supposed, of the circumference 
established on the length of a degree taken on a mean parallel, but of 
the actual equatorial circumference. 

K The stress Columbus lays on this measurement, by frequently 
importance he assigned to it. As we have 
itten it seven times on the margin of the 
oes not content himself with merely writing 
detail, and avers that he has 
e notes 87, 89, and 93.) 
'ith this idea. "Aristotle says 

t, shows wh; 
indicated above, hi 
Imago Mundi alone. He does not cont 
it down ; several times he explains it ii 
checked and found it to be accurate. (S< 
" Columbus was thoroughly imbued 

that this 

11, and that there is very little « 

" he writes ii 



II. — The Unknown Maritime Space: Esdras. — It 
was not only the volume of the earth that Columbus 
diminished ; he also reduced the maritime space which 
separated the ends of the Continent or known earth. In 
the course of his reading he had met with a Biblical text 
whence he drew this conclusion. It occurs in two verses 
of Esdras, wherein it is said that only one-seventh of the 
earth is covered by the waters. 11 * Columbus, whose want 
of the critical faculty has made him commit some singular 

his letter from Hispaniola, 1498 (Navarette: Viages, vol. I., p. 261. — 
Major: Select Letters of Columbus, p. 145). "The world is a small 
matter," he says again, in his letter of the 7th June 1503; a little 
further on he intensifies this remark : ' ; I tell you again that the world 
is not so large as the vulgar suppose : a degree measures on the equator 
S6| miles; that is a fact one can touch with one's finger" (Navarette : 
Viages, vol. I., p. 300. — Major, loc. ct't., p. 184). 

w The verses of Esdras. — Neither d'Ailly nor Columbus quotes the 
passages from Esdras of which they both speak. The first gives a 
reference to the Fourth Book, the second to Books III. and IV. They 
will be found in Apocrypha II., 6, verses 42 and 47 {The Apocrypha 
according to the Authorised Version, University Press, Oxford, brevier, 
i6°.) Esdras relates the Creation in an invocation he addresses to God : — 

"42. Upon the third day thou didst command that the waters should 
be gathered in the seventh part of the earth : six parts hast thou dried 
up, and kept them, to the intent that of these some being planted of God 
and tilled might serve thee. 

" 47. Upon the fifth day thou saidst unto the seventh part, where the 
waters were gathered, that it should bring forth living creatures, fowls 
and fishes : and so it came to pass." (The Apocrypha according to the 
Authorised Version, University Press, Oxford, brevier, 16°). 

The Fourth Book (second in Apocrypha) of Esdras is not canonical, 
but the Fathers of the Church accord it a great authority, and this 
Columbus does not forget to say. See on this Book the Dissertation of 
Dom Calmet in his French and Latin Bible, Paris, 1724, 8 vols, fob, vol. 
III., p. 253, and on the verses in question : Humboldt, Examen critique, 
vol. I., pp. 186-191: A. D. White, A History of the Warfare of Science 
•with Theology, vol. 1., pp. 111-112. 


errors of judgement, and who believed blindly in the Scrip- 
tures, took quite literally this text of Esdras, and inferred 
from it that, if the solid parts of the earth occupied six- 
sevenths of the whole, the maritime space which outspread 
westward from the shores of Europe could not be very large. 86 

" The Opinions of Esdras, d'AUly, and Columbus on the small extent 
of the Sea. — In chapter viii. of the Imago Mundi, entitled De quantitate 
terra; habitabilis, ct'Ailly developes the idea that the habitable earth has 
a great extent in comparison with what is covered by the waters ; and in 
support of this theory he quotes Aristotle, Averrhoes, Pliny, and particu- 
larly Esdras, who has written that six parts of the earth are inhabited, 
and only the seventh is occupied by the waters. Columbus has literally 
covered the margins of the page of the Imago devoted to this subject 
with a commentary, wherein he notes especially the language of Esdras, 
and seeks to show that his assertion respecting the extent of lands and 
seas is well founded. This commentary, and the whole page of the 
Imago round which it runs like an embroidery, are transcribed and 
reproduced in facsimile in the volume of the Raccolta Colomtiana, 
Autograft, No. 23, p. 70, and another transcription is given in the 
volume Scritti under the same number, p. 376. 

In the account of his third voyage (Hayti, 1468), Columbus returns to 
this subject, and expands it at considerable length. The passage 
deserves to be reproduced in its entirety : — 

"The Master of Scholastic History says, in writing on Genesis, that 
the waters are not very abundant ; that when they were created they 
only covered the whole earth because they were vaporous and like fogs, 
and that when they solidified and united they occupied very little place. 
Nicholas de Lyra expresses the same opinion. Aristotle says this world 
is small, and that there is not much water, and that one can pass easily 
from Spain to the Indies ; Avenruyi (Averrhoes) confirms this view, and 
Cardinal Pedro de Aliaco (Pierre d' A illy) quotes him, and supports this 
opinion, which agrees with that of Seneca, by saying that Aristotle may 
have learned many secret things about the world from Alexander the 
Great, Seneca from Caesar Nero, and Pliny from the Romans. The same 
cardinal attributes to these writers a greater authority than to Ptolemy 
and others, Greeks or Arabs ; and, in order to confirm what they say 
respecting the smallness of the waters and of the trifling proportion of 
the earth covered by them, in comparison with what is reported by 


Columbus found, therefore, in the two quotations from 
Alfragan and Esdras which had come to his knowledge — 
we shall show in what manner later on — the essential basis 
of his geographical theory: namely, the smallness of the 
globe, and the relative littleness of those parts covered 
with water compared with those that were left uncovered. 
A third author, Marinus of Tyre, supplied him with the 
necessary elements for giving to his system a rational and 
scientific appearance. 

III. — Extension of Asia Eastward: Marinus of 
TYRE, — Marinus of Tyre, as has been said elsewhere, * fixed 
his meridians from hour to hour; that is to say, the space 
included between each was of 15 degrees, thus represent- 
ing an hour of the daily revolution of the earth. His first 

Ptolemy and his followers, he finds a passage in the Third Book of 
Esdras, wherein that sacred writer says that of the seven parts of the 
world six are uncovered, and the other is covered by water ; and this 
assertion {lit qual autoridatf) is sanctioned by holy personages, such as 
Saint Augustine and Saint Ambrose in his Hexameron, who accord 
credit to the Third and Fourth Books of Esdras" (Navarrete : Viagcs, 
vol. I., Terccr Viage, letter of 1498, p. 261). 

In the letter, called rarissima, which is dated 1503, Columbus again 
states his opinion on this point, without however naming Esdras. "The 
world," he says, "is small, being composed of six dry parts, and of a 
seventh which alone is covered with water" {Navarrete, ibid., vol. I., 
letter of 7th July 1 503, p. 300). Finally, the author of the Historic, 
enumerating the reasons which influenced his father, recalls that Pedro 
de Aliaco, in chap. viii. of the treatise above mentioned, and several 
other writers have affirmed that Europe and Asia are close together, 
and that the maritime space which stretches between them is not very 
considerable (Hist., chap, vii., fol. 15, recto). 

w See after, in Second Part : The Map, and before, chap, iii., sect. 
io, and notes 76 and 77 ; see also note 98. 


meridian passed through the Fortunate Isles, which he 
supposed were 2^ degrees west of Cape St Vincent, and 
the 15th meridian he drew at Sera, Catigara and Thina:, or 
225 degrees to the east; so that there remained only 135 
degrees to complete the circumference of the globe, these 
being assigned to the maritime portion of the sphere. 
Ptolemy, who describes the system of Marinus, points out 
that he was in error in giving so wide an extent to the 
habitable earth, and reduces his 225 to 180 degrees; thus 
dividing the globe into two equal portions, each of 180 
degrees, one being assigned to the solid element and the 
other to the liquid." 7 This was still a great deal too much, 
considering there are but 130 degrees from the western 
coasts of the Spanish peninsula to the most eastern 
extremities of the Indies. Columbus bluntly rejects the 
correction Ptolemy introduced into the dimensions 
Marinus of Tyre had assigned to the known world, and 
declares that the expeditions of the Portuguese have 
proved that Marinus was right, or had at least approached 
very closely to the truth." Far from diminishing the 225 
degrees which Marinus of Tyre had determined was the 

" Ptolemy, Geog., Book I., chaps, xi. to xii. On Marinus of Tyre, 
see Gosselin : Recherches sur tc systime gt'ographique de Marin de Tyr, 
in bis Recherches, etc., Paris, An VI., v. ii., pp. 31-74. 

" Limits of the known -world according to Marinus of Tyre and 
Columbus. — Columbus, Carta rarissima, 1503. — Navarrete, vol. I., p. 
300. — Major's Select fitters of Columbus, p. 183. Here is the Spanish 
text of this important passage : — 

"Tolome6 creyo de haber bien remedado a" Marino y ahora se falla su 
escritura bien propincua al cierio. Tolome6 asienta Catigara a doce 
tineas lejos de su occideme, que el asent6 sobre el cabo de san Vincente 
en Portugal dos grados y un tercio. Marino en quince lineas con- 
stituyd la Tierra £ terminos. Marino en Etiopia escribe al Indo la lines 


extent of the known world, Columbus still further enlarges 
it He remarks that the greater part of the earth has been 
already overrun \ that towards the west the Portuguese have 

eqmnocial mas de veinte y cuatro grados, y ahora que los Portugueses 
le navegan le fallan cicrto." 

This text is sufficiently obscure, and it has been the despair of 
translators. The Abbe" Morelli, who has given an Italian version of 
the entire letter ; M. Urano, who was the first to translate it into French ; 
M. de la Roquette, who has also made a translation ; and M. Pinart, 
who is responsible for another— have all failed to give it an intelligible 
meaning, because they failed to take into account the geographical 
system of Marinus of Tyre, and the modifications Ptolemy had intro- 
duced therein. Major's translation, although better than the others, is 
nevertheless defective. He has failed to understand the words Etiopia 
escribe a! Indo, which he renders by describes the India in Ethiopia, 
which is absurd {/oc. at., p. 183). Letronne, who forgets that to the 
Portuguese of that time Ethiopia was part of India, has been no more 
fortunate in comprehending this portion of the phrase, which he considers 
devoid of meaning {Relation des quatrc voyagei, vol, HI., p, no, note), 
We render this text as follows :— 

"Ptolemy thought he had exactly corrected Marinus \ but now it is 
found that what Marinus wrote was very nearly true. Ptolemy placed 
Catigara at twelve hours— //w<ir =horal lines — beyond his west (that 
is to say, beyond his first meridian), which he drew at aj degrees 
beyond Cape St. Vincent (that is to say, more to the west at the 
Canaries). Marinus enclosed the limits of the world (the inhabited land, 
the Continent) within fifteen hours (lineas). He placed the Ethiopia of 
the Indies (Abyssinia) at more than 24 degrees this side of the equator. 
And now that the Portuguese sail there, they have found that this was 

In the preceding passage, and in the one quoted in note 95, it is 
Columbus himself who speaks. His son thus expresses himself: — "The 
fifth reason which led the Admiral to believe that the distance by this 
route (the westward one) was short came to him from Alfragan and his 
disciples, who held that the circumference of the globe was much 
smaller than it was considered to be by the other cosmographers, inas- 
much as they only reckoned 568 miles to the degree. From this 
Columbus inferred that the earth being smaller, its third part, which was 
unknown to Marinus of Tyre, must necessarily be limited. Conse- 


pushed their expeditions as far as the Azores and the isles of 
Cape de Verde, while, it is to be remembered, towards the 
east Marinus himself did not know the furthest limits of the 
Continent; consequently, in order to ascertain the whole 
globe, there remains but to cross the maritime section 
which lies between the eastern limits of the Indies and the 
islands of the Azores and of Cape de Verde, which section 
cannot be more than one-third of the entire circumference 
of the globe, since Marinus already knew fifteen out of the 
twenty-four hours of this circumference, and owing to recent 
discoveries there now remained only eight instead of nine 
hours to be discovered. 9 * 

quently this portion might be crossed in a shorter time than MM 
supposed, since the eastern confines of the Indies had not yet been 
discovered, and they were sure to be found nearer to us on the west" 
(Hist., chap, vi., fol. 13). 

To these proofs, already so convincing, that Columbus had borrowed 
his fundamental idea from Marinus of Tyre, a third may be added: 
the evidence of Bartholomew, Columbus' own brother, and the cosmo- 
grapher of the family. On the third sheet of the curious map which 
Bartholomew Columbus either brought to Rome or constructed there in or 
about 1506, and which was discovered by Wieser, may be read the legend I 
"Secondo Marino e Colombo da San Vicentio a Cattigara, g. 225, sono 
hore I J. Secondo Ptolomeo infino a Cattigara, g. [80, che sia hore 12." 
According to Marinus and Columbus, from Cape St. Vincent to Cattigara 
there are 125 degrees, or 15 hours ; according to Ptolemy, to Cattigara 
there are 180 degrees, or 15 hours" (Wieser : Die Karte des Barfohmeo 
Colombo, Innsbruck, 1893, p. 7). 

Here appears to be conclusive proof of the fact put forward by us, 
that the whole cosmographical system of Columbus was based on that 
of Marinus of Tyre, 

* This last part of the cosmographical system of Columbus is ex- 
plained by his son in chap. vi. of the Historie—s. chapter which certainly 
belongs to Ferdinand Columbus ; for Las Casas, who has reproduced it 
in his fifth chapter, says that he borrowed it from him. In this chapter 


IV. — Origin of the Cosmographical Ideas of 

Columbus: Toscanelli's Correspondence had 
NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. — Add to the outlines already 
sketched the different items of information supplied by 
Marco Polo on the islands and the countries of the Far 
East, and we shall have, so far as they bore upon his great 
design, all the essential elements of the cosmographical and 
geographical system that Columbus had drafted for himself. 10 " 
There is nothing else in the letter to Martins. The cosmo- 
graphy of Toscanelli— if indeed he be the author of the letter 
— was, therefore, identical with that of Columbus. By itself 
this fact does not form a presumption against the authen- 
ticity of the letter, for it is urged that it exerted a determin- 
ing influence on Columbus, in which case it would be quite 
natural to find it contained the ideas which had inspired the 
great navigator. 101 

But the question changes completely if it were elsewhere 
than in the correspondence of Toscanelli that Columbus 

Ferdinand Columbus enlarges on die reasons which led his father to 
think that the maritime space he proposed to cross was not very great ; 
he adds that Columbus, in support of his opinion, appealed to the views 
of Strabo, Ctesias, Nearchus, Pliny, Onesicritus, and of Alfragan {loc. cit., 

a. 13.) 

™ In order to complete the description of Columbus' geographical 
system, one ought to mention his ideas as to the shape of the earth and 
of the situation of the terrestrial paradise; they are certainly singular 
enough. But these ideas, or rather dreams, are without any scientific 
value, and hold no place in the group of speculations which may have 
exercised some influence on the practical determinations of Columbus. 

101 See on this point the very curious article by M. de Lollis 
already quoted— Qui a d/cauvert /Mm/rrjru* ?— wherein he makes out 
Columbus to have been an ignoramus who owed everything to 
Toscanelli ; in this he would have been right had the letter to 
Martins been genuine. 



obtained his cosmographical theory ; it will shortly appear 
that such was the case. Columbus, who was not a scholar, 
and whose stock of Latin, as Bernaldez remarks, was limited, 
did not know at first hand one of the authors he quotes ; 
nevertheless we are aware, for he himself tells us, how he 
became acquainted with their opinions. 

It was from Cardinal d'Ailly's Imago Mundi, a copy of 
which he possessed, and has covered with notes, that he 
learned the Arab astronomer, Alfragan, made the globe 
smaller by 3,000,000 metres than Ptolemy reckoned it to 
be, by reducing the length of the degree to 56$ miles — a 
distance which became his fundamental measure, as is 
proved by his frequent reference to it. 

From the same work Columbus obtained Esdras' opinion 
that the portion of the globe covered by water bore but 
a small proportion to the rest, which consisted of the con- 
tinents. 102 

lM Columbus himself says, in his report of 1498 to the Catholic kings, 
that it was Cardinal d'Ailly who acquainted him with the opinion 
of Esdras as to the smallness of the waters compared to the lands. 
The passage is quoted in note 95, where also will be found a reference 
to the page of the Imago Mundi bearing on this subject, which 
Columbus has annotated with his own hand (No. 23 of the Scritti, 
and the Autograft of the Raccolla. 

In the account of this same third voyage which Las Casas has 
given from Columbus' Diary, and which is fuller than the one made 
to the Catholic kings, we find the same mention of Esdras, with a 
reference to Book IV., chap. vt. But in these passages it is difficult 
to distinguish whether it is Columbus who speaks, or Las Casas 
who comments his text (see Las Casas: Hisldria, vol. II., pp. 264-67). 
M. de Lollis has suppressed a part of these passages in his reproduction 
of this account (ScnW, etc., vol. II., p. 22). 

In his book Profecias, Columbus mentions chaps, i., iii., and iv. 
of Esdras {Sctilli, vol. II., p. 159). In a note he has written on 
his copy of Pliny, he again mentions Esdras, but only for the purpose 


From this small treatise he furthermore learned the 
opinion of Aristotle respecting the closeness of the Indies 
to Spain. 103 It was from the same work, and perhaps also 
from Ptolemy's Geography, of which there exists a copy 
of the 1478 edition bearing his mystic signature, Columbus 
acquired the knowledge of Marinas of Tyre reckoning only 
135 degrees (9 hours) between the extremities of the con- 
tinent 10 * 

of showing that St. Augustine looked on him as a prophet (note 
No. 856 of the Scritti, vol. II, p. 366). 

105 Scrilti, loc. cil., note 23. 

101 Letter of the 7th July 1503 {Scritli, vol. II., pp. 183-84; passage 
quoted, note 98. — Note to chap. viii. of the Imago Alundi, No. 23 of the 
Scritti, vol. 1 1., p. 377). 

In the notes he has written on the Imago Mundi Columbus only 
once mentions Marinus of Tyre ; and although it is evident to any- 
one who takes the trouble to read his annotations to that work, and 
what he says of Cardinal d'Ailly in his account of his third voyage, 
that it is to him he is indebted for, if not all, at least the greater part 
of his cos mo graphical ideas, it may be it was from some other 
source he learned the system of Marinus of Tyre, which he has accur- 
ately summed up in his letter of the 7th July (see note 98). Every- 
thing tends to show il was through Ptolemy he gained his information 
on the subject ; for he mentions, only, however, to reject it, the 
correction Ptolemy had made to Marinus' calculations— a fact not 
greatly to the credit of Columbus' knowledge or critical acumen. 

Columbus, whose whole scientific and literary equipment appears 
to have been borrowed from the works of the few authors he has 
annotated— Pius II, d'Ailly, Pliny, Marco Polo, Plutarch and Ptolemy, 
— has contented himself by placing his name and a verse of Scripture 
to the hitter's geography, while he has simply covered with notes 
the works of the other five. But, as d'Ailly alone mentions the 
correction that was known to him, we may suppose, although he has 
neglected to annotate the volume of the Ale.'iandrine geographer, it 
was there he got the notion Asia extended to the 225th meridian— 
a notion which, with the measurement of Alfragan, formed the double 


It was the personal knowledge he had of the discoveries 
of the Portuguese towards the west that made him reduce 
these 135 degrees to about one-third the circumference of 
the globe. 

It was the opinions put forward by the ancients, and 
reproduced pretty well everywhere, that led to his conviction 
that this space might easily be crossed. Finally, it was 
Marco Polo, of whom a copy exists annotated by Columbus 
who informed him of the existence of the islands and 
countries of Eastern Asia he so frequently mentions, and 
for which he vainly sought on each succeeding voyage. 108 
Here are, after Columbus himself, the sources of his cosmo- 
graphical conceptions ; and what he says on this subject, 
or what he permits to be seen, cannot be questioned, inas- 

basis of his cosmographical conception : (he smallness of the globe, and 
of the maritime space remaining unknown. 

Furthermore, the source whence Columbus took the fundamental 
conception of Marin us of Tyre matters little. What is of importance 
is that he did not owe it to Toscanelli j of this there can be no 
doubt, because it was only a person ignorant of mathematics who 
could adopt such an idea, the error of which Ptolemy demonstrates 
in the very place where he records it. 

"" On this point there can be no doubt, for all the information we 
find in the letter to Martins borrowed from Marco Polo is annotated 
by the hand of Columbus himself, or in that of his brother, on the 
copy of that traveller's work which they possessed. For instance, the 
letter expatiates on the importance of the harbour of Zayton, into 
which enters yearly more than one hundred ships laden with pepper. 
Marco Polo states " that for one shipload of pepper that goes to 
Alexandria . . , there come a hundred such, aye, and more too, to 
this haven of Zayton" (Yule's Marco Polo, vol. II., p. 317); and 
Columbus writes opposite this passage : " Naves in hieme vadunt, 
in restate redunt. Portus Zaiien, id est caput de Alpha" {Pastille al 
libra di Marco Polo, No. 372 in Scritli tti Colombo, vol, II. of the 


much as he reveals unintentionally the very fountain heads 
from which he borrowed, whereas the correspondence with 
Toscanelli does not furnish a single name. The letter to 
Martins and the map which accompanied it count, therefore, 

The letter speaks of the Great Khan, who is the king of kings. 
Marco Polo says: "The great kaan is the lord of all Tartars" (Yule, 
lac. cit., vol. I., p. 10), and Columbus puts on the margin, "Magnum 
kam rex" {toe. cit., note u). 

The letter says that the residence of the Great Khan is in the 
Port of Katayo. So too does Marco Polo: "The great kaan resides 
in the capital city of Cathay" (Yule, toe. cit., vol. I., p. 354). Columbus 
notes the passage by repeating the two words, "Cathay Provincia" 
{toe. cit., No. 135). 

The letter recalls that the Great Khan sent ambassadors to the 
Pope, requesting him to send a certain number of learned persons 
to instruct him. This information comes from Marco Polo, who says : 
" The great kaan begged that the Pope would send as many as 
one hundred persons of our Christian faith" (Joe. cit., vol. 1., p. 13); 
and Columbus inserts on the margin: "Misit legatos ad Pontificem" 
{toe. cit., No. 12). 

These annotations of passages which have furnished some of the 
information given in the letter to Martins are not the only ones : 
those bearing the Nos. 138, 140, 146, 213, 239, 241, 243 refer to Cathay, 
Mangi, Quinsay, and to several other subjects mentioned in this 

Thus Columbus, or his brother, has marked on his copy of Marco 
Polo the passages which inspired the writer of the letter to Martins. 
If it was Toscanelli who made use of these passages, how comes it 
that we find them marked among those which caught the attention 
of Columbus and his brother? Are we to see here a matter of 
simple coincidence, or are we, by chance, to imagine that Columbus 
and his brother had the scientific curiosity, characteristic of the 
searching criticism of to-day, to hunt up and annotate in Marco 
Polo all the passages which had been made use of by Toscanelli ? 
Is it not, on the contrary, quite clear that these annotations of the 
two brothers reveal at once both the share which belongs to Marco 
Polo in the geographical system of Columbus, and the very source 
whence the author of the letter to Martins drew his information ? 



for nothing in the fundamental geographical conceptions of 

If it were necessary to support this conclusion by further 
argument, we would observe that Ferdinand Columbus, in 
the chapter of his book where he enumerates at length 
the scientific reasons which decided his father, and cites 
the authors who had suggested them, does not include 
Toscanelli among them. He points out the share d'AHly, 
Alfragan, and, in particular, Marinus of Tyre had in the 
formation of Columbus' cosmographical system, and only 
mentions the learned Florentine as encouraging and confirm- 
ing his father in his views. 

Las Casas says exactly the same thing in those portions 
of his book which correspond with those of the Historie 
we have just quoted. Elsewhere, it is true, he lays stress on 
the influence the letter and map of Toscanelli had upon 
Columbus ; but it is no less true that neither Las Casas nor 
Ferdinand Columbus attributes any part to Toscanelli in 
the genesis of the cosmographical conceptions of Columbus. 10 * 
The idea that Columbus owes everything to Toscanelli 
is a modern one, and arises from the 1474 date borne by 
the letter to Martins. It is clear, if this letter was written 
then and was soon afterwards communicated to Columbus, 
that it might have been the mainspring of his system ; but 
we have shown this system had a widely different origin, 
and we have just seen that even Las Casas and Ferdinand 
Columbus themselves confirm this view. Where the Bishop 
of Chiapas and the son of Columbus lead us astray is when 
they put forward that Columbus had formulated his system 
prior to his discovery, and that this discovery was the 
"* Historie, chaps, vi. and vii. — Histdria, chap. v. 


practical consequence of his theory. The order of events 
was just the opposite : it was the theory which followed 
the discovery. 

V. — The Cosmography of the Letter to Martins 
is Borrowed from Columbus. — If Columbus owes nothing 
to the correspondence attributed to Toscanclli, and if never- 
theless, as is undeniable, the cosmographical ideas ex- 
pressed in this correspondence and in Columbus' own 
writings are absolutely alike, how are we to explain this 
remarkable identity? 

Did the author of the letter to Martins draw his in- 
formation directly from the sources known to Columbus 
only through the medium of the Imago Mutidi, and had 
he therefrom, some fifteen or twenty years beforehand, 
formed exactly the same cosmographical system ? It can 
only with difficulty be believed. For Columbus the task 
was comparatively easy, as he found the principal elements 
for his system ready collected in the book by Cardinal 
d'Ailly. It was not the same for Toscanclli, who is 
supposed to have written in 1474, before the publication 
of the Imago Mundi, and before the printing of Ptolemy, 
who is the sole source for all we know concerning Marinus 
of Tyre. Even if they had been inspired by the same 
documents, Columbus and he would not, certainly, have 
arrived at identical results. Toscanelli, for instance, had 
no grounds for reducing to 130 degrees the 135 degrees 
Marinus assigns to the, as yet uncrossed, maritime zone ; 
the author of the letter to Martins does, however, make 
this reduction : on the other hand, Columbus, who knew 


of the Portuguese discoveries, was fully justified in thus 
correcting the figures of Marinus of Tyre. 

We must, therefore, reject the hypothesis that Columbus 
and the writer of the letter to Martins have, each in- 
dependently, drawn from the same sources and with a 
like result. Either it was CoJumbus who copied the 
letter to Martins, or it was the author of that letter who 
copied Columbus ; and, as we have shown Columbus 
could not have been the copyist, it follows it must have 
been the writer of the letter. From this it also follows 
that the writer in question could not have been Toscanelli, 
since he died in 1482 — a period at which Columbus had 
not yet formed his cosmographical system, as we are 
now about to show. 

VI. — Columbus' Cosmographical System is Pos- 
terior TO HIS Discovery. — If Columbus is in no way 
indebted to the documents bearing the name of Toscanelli, 
and dated anterior to the discovery of America, and if 
it was by himself he acquired the ideas from which he 
built up his system, another and a very important question 
arises: to what period does that system belong? This 
question is not one of simple curiosity ; it has a great 
interest for the history of the development of the ideas 
which led to the discovery of the New World. It behoves 
the critic, in fact, to know if the great event, which, after 
thousands of years of civilisation, came to reveal suddenly 
to man that he had known but half of that world of 
which he thought himself the master, was due to a happy 
accident arising from chance information of unscientific 
character heard by the discoverer, or was the result and 


logical sequence of the deliberate application of a cosmo- 
graphical conception, whether erroneous or not. In 
word, was Columbus guided on his first voyage 
a scientific theory, or by information received from 
sailors ? 

In order to reply to this question, we should be able 
to fix at what period Columbus acquired the notions 
which form the basis of his system. Unfortunately, this 
is not easy to be done. Let us, however, see what can 
be said on this point. 

Columbus may have known at the time he conceived 
the idea of his enterprise all the purely geographical 
details of this system, such as all that relates to Cipangu, 
Zayton, the Great Khan, and other hems borrowed from 
Marco Polo. He possessed a copy of this traveller's work, 
which he has annotated, and we can see from the first 
lines of his journal, August 1492, that he seems to be 
posted in these matters. But Marco Polo, an exact and 
truthful reporter, was neither a scholar nor a theorist, 
and from him Columbus could only obtain information 
of a practical nature ; such, in fact, is all he does borrow 
from that traveller. As to the scientific part of his 
system, almost entirely due to quotations made from 
the Imago Mundi, it is certainly of more recent date. 107 

,u7 The Imago Mundi of Cardinal d'Ailly (Peirus Abacus or Pedro 
de Aliaco) is a collection of twelve short treatises written by the 
Cardinal, and of a few pieces from Gerson's pen. Four of d'Ailly's 
twelve treatises deal with cosmography. The first and the most 
important, which has given its name to the work, is the Imago Mundi; 
the second is entitled Epitome Mappe Mundi. These were the two 
treatises which drew Columbus' attention, and literally he has covered 
their margins with notes, the reading of which reveals that it was 


As has been shown above, it is through this work 
Columbus became acquainted with the authors who 
suggested to him the fundamental ideas of his cosmo- 
graphical theory : Alfragan, from whom he borrows the 
measurement of the earth ; Esdras, who supplies him 
with his idea of the smallness of the seas compared 
with the extent of the continents ; Seneca, Aristotle, and 
the other ancient writers, who convince him that the 
maritime space dividing the two extremities of the earth 
may be easily passed over. If we knew exactly the date 
of printing of this treatise to which Columbus so often 
has recourse, we should know the earliest period in which 

there he had found his geographical system. Here is what Las Casas 
says on this subject : after speaking of the ancient writers whom 
Columbus had studied, he comes to the moderns, and thus expresses 
himself: — 

" In the front line comes that which Pedro de Aliaco {Pierre d'Ailly) 
says in his books of astrology and cosmography. I firmly believe 
that this doctor has had greater influence in the decisions of Columbus 
than the authors we have previously cited. His book was so familiar 
to Christopher Columbus that he has completely annotated it with his 
own hand in Latin, and has covered its margins with writing, wherein 
he records a crowd of things he had read or gathered elsewhere " (Las 
Casas, Hisliiria, liook L, chap, xi., vol. I., p. 89). 

As Humboldt has remarked {Exumen critique, vol. I., p. 61), it is 
probable, if not actually certain, that it was also from this work he 
borrowed all he says of the opinions put forward by the ancients on 
the points with which he was occupied. This precious volume passed 
to Ferdinand Columbus, and to-day forms part of the Columbina at 
Seville. Vamhagen was the first to call attention to the notes it 
contains. These are now all available to students, M. de Lollis having 
wholly reproduced them in facsimile, with a transcription opposite, in 
his volume Autograft di Colombo of the Raccolta Colombiana, and 
has given another transcription, with the text of the passages of d'Ailly 
which suggested the annotations, in the Scritti di Colombo volume of 
the same collection. 


he could have had it in his hands, and this would be 
most valuable information in determining the genesis of 
the great navigator's ideas. But this small bibliographical 
problem, which would here have great importance, 
not yet been solved. All that can be said is that the 
Imago Mundi could not have been printed before 1480.' 
It is therefore at that date, at the earliest, that Columbus 
could have written on the margins of this volume the 
notes which bear witness to the loans he has made from 
it But these notes may be later than this date, and 
there are several reasons for supposing that such, in fact, 
is the case. Thus it is only in the later writings of 
Columbus that we find he refers to the ideas which 
constitute the very foundation of his cosmography ; it 
is in the letter of 1498 that he speaks of Esdras, of 
Aristotle, and of several more ; it is in the letter called 

"" There has been only one edition of the Imago Mundi, and that 
was printed at Louvain by John of Westphalia. All bibliographers 
agree in thinking lhat the date of printing could not have been earlier 
than 1480, or later than 1490 or 1492. The compiler of the Catalogue 
of the Columbia a, Senor S. de la Rosa, places it between the years 
1480 and 1483. CatJIogv, vol. I., p. 51, and vol. [I., p. xxiii. The 
Abbe' Salembier, to whom we are indebted for a learned treatise and 
an interesting study on Cardinal d'Ailly, and who has visited most 
of the libraries possessing a copy of the Imago Mundi, thinks it was 
printed about the year 1480 {Un Sveque de Cambrai, Lille, 1891, p. 10). 
Margry considers it was printed as early as 1472 [Navigations, p. tot). 
The date accepted by Humboldt (Examcn critique, vol. 1., p. 62) and 
by Mr Harrissc (C. Colomb, vol. II., p. 190) is 1490, the one given by 
Jean de Launay (Joanru's Launot'i, Regit Navarro; etc., 1677, vol. II., 
p. 478). But some years ago it was found that a copy of this book 
belonging to the Royal Library of Stockholm contained a note 
indicating that it had been purchased in 1487. The book was therefore 
printed between 1480 and 1487. 






written after his fourth voyage, that he gives 
for the first time the opinion of Marinus of Tyre as to 
the extension of Asia towards the East, which opinion 
occupies so important a place both in his system and in 
the letter to Martins, where the 1 35 degrees, remaining 
unknown to Marinus, are transformed into 26 spaces ; 
there, too, he quotes several other authors in support of 
his assertion as to the smallness of the earth. 

If Columbus had known the Imago Mundi and Ptolemy 
before his first voyage, it is more than probable that, in 
the voluminous journal he has written of that voyage, he 
would have made some allusion either to the authors to 
whom he owed his ideas, or to the ideas themselves. He 
has done nothing of the kind. This fact authorises us in 
believing that Columbus only knew the Imago Mundi and 
Ptolemy late in his career ; and that, consequently, the 
notions resuming his cosmographical system, the smallness 
of the earth and the great extent of the land in opposition 
to the sea, only came to him after he had effected his 
first, and very likely not till after his third or even fourth, 

vii.— a resume: the letter to martins, which 
reproduces the ideas of columbus, is subsequent 
to the Discovery of the New World, since, at that 
period, Columbus had no scientific theory. — The first 
observation suggested by the above statement of facts is that 
Toscanelli was in no way concerned in drafting a correspond- 
ence of which all the ideas have been borrowed from Colum- 
bus, who himself had not formed them until long after the 
death of the Florentine astronomer. 


The second observation to be made, but from quite 
another point of view, is of the greatest interest : it is 
that, contrary to received tradition, Columbus, when he 
sailed on his ever memorable voyage, had not yet formed 
his cosmographical system, and was, consequently, guided 
by no scientific opinion whatever. He evidently had some 
kind of a plan, for he first submitted it to Portugal and 
afterwards to Spain. But beyond his own assertions, as 
l«as Casas and Ferdinand Columbus have reported them 
to us, there exists not a shadow of proof that this plan 
was based on the cosmographical considerations which the 
diacovcrcr subsequently formulated. If it be true that as 
early as 1483, approximately the date of his voyages to 
the coast of Guinea, he already knew Alfragan's measure- 
ment of the globe, and had acquired the conviction that 
tho world was relatively small, we may, by stretching a 
|H»iut» admit that the general conception of his system 
date* hack to that period of his life, since his system rests 
eitthely on that first fundamental notion, and, in fact, Las 
r<o*a* ami Ferdinand Columbus assure us that Columbus 
had indeed made this deduction. 100 But this is very un- 
likely A uvtmv^raphical conception like the one outlined 
d\»e« not take *ha|H* all at once. From the fundamental 
Idea that the woild is smaller than it is supposed to be 
)t< the one that the *i>ace still unknown of the terrestrial 

•" » m»m* \U>< \>|»Mtieu itut elf Alfra^an and of Columbus himself, 
tKit Ov v»--*j*w v»"U msM<u»vd \(\4 mile* - Columbus inferred that, the 
(Ul „ v .|»»» r » v Ki-ui*; «m*ll. ihe |tut which formed the third, and which 
^i (l ,i m ,, lu.^lvuvl «* vmVm»suK uuwt necessarily be also small, and 
<xV UXs t . »».».. m s Jmiun |»e»i\Hl v»l lime." Las Casas, I/istdria, chap, v., 
v i \ ,. f . |K. vou % ^|H»iivtiu^ juia^iuph in the Historic is to be 

I urn I K ip \« , M » I 



sphere forms but a third of the whole, and docs not embrace 
a greater extent than 130 or 120 degrees, is a very long 
way. The human mind does not move in leaps, and it 
would be contrary to all logic to imagine that at one 
bound Columbus had arrived at conclusions which, although 
contained in known premises, cannot be unravelled except 
by repeated efforts suggested by observations and considera- 
tions of many kinda 

We may therefore be permitted to believe that many 
of the theoretical considerations Columbus enumerates, in 
order to explain how he came to conceive and develop 
his project of discovery, only attained their maturity after 
that discovery had been accomplished. There would, it 
may be added, have been nothing surprising or illegitimate 
had such been the case. It is a natural process for the 
human mind to desire to find an explanation for what has 
happened, and Columbus had a perfect right to seek in 
the authors he knew considerations and arguments which 
should justify his undertaking. Nor must it be forgotten 
that Columbus had enemies who in his own day said — we 
shall see later on what grounds 110 — that what he had dis- 
covered had been told to him ; and that very naturally 
these criticisms led him to exaggerate the part his theo- 
retical ideas had played in his discoveries, and to lessen 
the share chance had had therein. 

If, from the number of things which contributed to 
lead Columbus into the career he was to follow, we take 
away the correspondence with Toscanelli and the ideas 
that were suggested to him by reading the Imago Mundi 
and Ptolemy, there will remain no other source of infor- 
ia See later, chap. v. 


mation from which he could form his conviction than the 
gossip current in his day in Portugal respecting the isles 
and lands which it was believed had been seen in the 
unexplored regions of the Atlantic There, in all proba- 
bility, was the principal source of the ideas whence sprung 
the project of Columbus. We are not justified in finding 
its origin in the cosmographical speculations of authors 
either of ancient or mediaeval times, with whose writings 
he was late in becoming acquainted, or in the pretended 
correspondence with Toscanelli, of which he never breathed 
a word. 

Nevertheless, we hesitate to conclude that Columbus' 
great undertaking was suggested merely by reports as to the 
existence of new lands to the west and of the possibility of 
reaching them. The information contained in these reports 
did not come to him all at one time, and he could not have 
given shape to their meaning except by close study and 
submitting them to a careful critical analysis, which pre- 
supposes on his part some acquaintance, for purposes of 
comparison, with the data then in the possession of seamen 
and cosmographers. We do not think, however, we are 
venturing too far when we say there is every reason to 
believe that, when Columbus undertook his first voyage of 
discovery, the grounds he relied on were rather practical than 

We therefore sum up this chapter as follows : — 

The cosmographical ideas expressed in the correspondence 

attributed to Toscanelli and found in the writings of 

Columbus are exactly identical. 

Columbus has borrowed nothing from this correspondence : 

we know the sources whence he drew his information. 


Toscanelli could not have drawn from the same sources, and, 
if he had been able to do so, he would not have come to the 
same conclusions. The cosmography of the letter to Martins 
is borrowed from Columbus himself 

The cosmographical system of Columbus dates from after 
his discoveries. 

The author of the letter to Martins, being only able to 
borrow from Columbus after this period, cannot be Toscanelli, 
who died in 1482. 

Columbus, when he embarked on his great enterprise, had 
no scientific theory whatever. 



I.— Necessity of a Motive for the suspected 
Fraud. — However convincing they may be, all the objections 
raised against the authenticity of the correspondence of 
Toscanelli with Martins and with Columbus would lose some 
of their force if no motive could be assigned for the deceit. It 
is a juridical and logical axiom that all human actions are 
deliberate, and that one does not, for example, resort to 

» fraud without some definite object. It is therefore necessary 
to seek for the causes which may have suggested inventing 
the idea of a correspondence wherein a celebrated astronomer 
is supposed to have pointed out to Columbus the scientific 
reasons which told in favour of a route to the Indies by the 
west rather than by the east. 

There can be no doubt, if fraud there be, that it was 
committed in the interests of Columbus. For it was to 
Columbus Toscanelli is credited with sending a copy of his 
letter to Martins ; the Latin text of the letter was found on a 
volume known to have belonged to Columbus, and the 
authorised biographers of the great Genoese, Las Casas and 
Ferdinand Columbus— or whoever were the authors of the 
Historie — are the only writers who speak of this correspon- 
dence ; no other hypothesis is therefore admissible. 

It is not so easy to settle what were those interests. If, 



however, one refers to the letter to Martins, it will be seen 
that, in its general character, it claims to be a cosmographies! 
theory, whence may be drawn the possibility and the easiness 
of reaching the East Indies by the west, without having 
recourse to information derived from pilots. It may there- 
fore be that this letter was imagined to prove Columbus did 
not owe his discovery to a happy chance, or to the positive 
information he may have gathered from the reports of pilots 
and the tales above mentioned current at his time, but to 
the application of a scientific theory which his studies and 
his nautical experience had enabled him to formulate, and 
which a scholar like Toscanelli had sanctioned. 

II. — The Pilot who may have informed Columbus. 
— What gives great probability to this supposition is that 
Columbus hag been really charged with having obtained in- 
formation, which rendered his discovery easy, from a pilot 
who had been blown to one of the Antilles by continued 
stress of weather. In the earliest days after the discovery 
it was, in fact, a generally received opinion, even among 
the very men who had accompanied Columbus on his first 
voyage, that the route to be discovered had been revealed to 
him by a sailor who had actually crossed the Atlantic, and 
who had died before he could himself profit by the accidental 
discovery he had made. In this connection it should be 
remarked that in Columbus there is noticeable a constant 
anxiety to lay emphasis on his experience as a sailor and his 
learning as a cosmographer ; as though he particularly 
desired it to appear that his undertaking differed from all 
others of a similar nature, inasmuch as it had been resolved 
upon by purely theoretical considerations. 


Therefore it is possible that the friends and relations c 
Columbus — we do not say Columbus himself — may have 
desired to answer the accusation, so detrimental to the 
glory of the great navigator, that he owed everything to an 
obscure and unlucky sailor, by inventing a correspondence 
which revealed him in the light of a rival to a renowned 
scholar instead of being merely the lucky recipient of the 
secret of an unknown man But this hypothesis would be 
unacceptable were not the allegations against Columbus 
justified, in appearance at least, by actual facts. The fabrica- 
tion of the Toscanelli correspondence supposes the truth of the 
adventure of the pilot who is credited with having instructed 
the discoverer. It is therefore advisable, before going further, 
to study the story of this pilot from its sources, and to see 
how far it is well founded. This we proceed to do. 

HI.— The Story of the Pilot, so far as we know 
IT. — The contemporary authors, whose evidence is hereafter 
considered, Oviedo, 111 Las Casas, 112 G6mara, lia and Garcilaso 

"' Oviedo (r$35)— La Histdria generdl de las Indias, Seville, 1535, 
Book I., chap. ii. and chap, iv., vol. I., p. 13 and p. t8 of the complete 
edition of Madrid, 1851-55, 4 vols, in large 4 . 

Oviedo is the first who has printed the story of the pilot, but not 
the first who mentions it. 

111 Las Casas (1 527)— Hisldria, etc., Madrid, 1875, 5 vols., Book I., 
chap, xiv., t. L, pp. 105 et seq. 

This chapter is entirely devoted to the subject. Las Casas began 
his history at the latest in 1527, but he knew the story of the pilot long 
before, for he says it was at Hispaniola he he;ird it, just as he arrived 
there (p. 103), that is to say, in 1502. His document is the oldest and 
most important we have on this tradition (see later : examination of 
the sources). It has escaped the attention of nearly all the authors who 
have dealt with the subject. Washington Irving has even written that 
Las Casas has not mentioned it. 

113 G6mara (1553) — Hisldria & las Indias, chaps, xiii., xiv., and xv. 


de la Vega, 114 recount the story of the pilot, who i 
have informed Columbus, in the following manner." 5 

This is the second account printed, and the first, if we except Las 
Casas, wherein the authenticity of the story is affirmed. Gomara has 
been supposed, on insufficient grounds, to have copied Oviedo. He 
is, it is true, a credulous and uncritical writer ; but his evidence on 
this point is very valuable. See later : examination of the sources. 

m Garcilaso de la Vega (1609) — Prime'ra parte de los comentdrios 
Stales, Lisbon, 1609, Book I., chap. iii. Garcilaso relates the story 
of the unknown pilot, whom he is the first to name, with details 
unmentioned by his predecessors. He assures us he heard it as a 
child from his father and his father's friends, who themselves had 
heard it from the first discoverers. Garcilaso, born in 1540, lost his 
father at the age of twenty. It would therefore be about 1550 or 1555, 
when he would be from ten to fifteen years of age, that he had heard 
these recitals. At that period some seventy years had elapsed since the 
event had taken place. But Garcilaso's father might well, as he says, 
have known the contemporaries and even the companions of Columbus. 
Garcilaso is the last who gives original information on this story. 

111 These four chroniclers are not the only ones who record this 
history. Several other authors, some even older than Garcilaso, have 
given it, but their accounts appear to be borrowed from Oviedo and 
Gomara, and contain only a few insignificant additions. In order of date 
they are :— 

Benioni (1565) — La Histdria del M emtio Nuo-vo, Book I., chap, v.; 
French edition of 1579, pp. 32-40; English edition of the Hakluyt 
Society, London, 1857, pp. 14-16. He repeats Gomara's account, whom 
he accuses of wilful obscurity. He does not, moreover, quote him 

Ferdinand Columbus (1571)— Historic, chap, ix., last paragraph. 1 

This chapter is entirely borrowed from Las Casas, with the exception 
of the last paragraph, which has been added by some unknown hand, 
certainly not by that of Ferdinand Columbus, wherein it is said that the 
adventure related by Oviedo belongs to Vincente Dfaz. 

Garibay (E.), 1571— Zor XL. tioros del compendia kistoridl de las 
chronieas y universal histdria dc todos los rcynos de Esparia, Antwerp, 
15711 4 vols, in fol., Book XVIII., chap, xxx., edition of 1628, vol. II., 
p. 650. He copies Giimara. 

Acosta (Jose de), 1 590— Histdria natural y moral de las Jndias, 


In 1483 or 1484, 118 a pilot, whose name and nationality are 
very doubtful, but who is supposed to have been a sailor from 

Seville, Book L, chap, xix.— merely mentions the story, in which he 

Fructuoso (G.), 1590 — Saudadcs da Terra, Book I., chap. xxij. Is the 
same as Gdmara's account. This work is partly in manuscript. But 
Senor Azevedo has published the above' indicated passage as a note 
to his edition of that part of Fructuoso's Saudades devoted to the 
Portuguese islands, Funchal, 1873, in 8", pp. 659-660. 

Wytfliet (,i$q&)— Descriptions PtoUmaica, Louvain, 1598, pp. 3 and 4. 
He accepts the story without discussion. 

Mariana (Father J.), 1601 — Hist6ria gencril dc Espaiia. . . , Toledo, 
1601, Book XXVI., chap. iii. The Toledo edition is the first in which 
Book XXVI. appears. Mariana adds nothing to the accounts before 
known ; he also believes in the story. 

Vasconcellos (Simoa de) 1603 — Chronica da tompankia dc Jesu do 
estado de Braril, Lisbon, 1603, Book I., Noticias, p. 28, 1865 edition. 

Garcia (Gregorio), 1607 — Orlgen dc lot Indies, Book I., chap, iv,, sect 
1 — believes the tradition. 

Torquemada (1613) — Monarquia Indiana, second edition, Madrid, 
T723, 3 vols, in 4°, Book XVIII., chap, i., vol. III., pp. 283-284. Copies 
Ovicdo and Gdmara. For other sources of information on the subject 
see Captain Duro's paper, quoted below. 

"' Date.— Las Casas, Oviedo, and Gdmara give no date, but speak of 
the incident as if it had taken place not long before the discovery of the 
New World. 

Fructuoso (1590) is the first to indicate a precise date, that of 1486, 
which cannot be adopted, for, according to the very terrns of the legend, 
it was while Columbus was still in Portugal that he heard the story from 
the pilot (Saudades da Terra, p. s6g). The Portuguese authors con- 
sulted by Ferdinand Denis for his article Sdnchcz, of the Biographic 
g/nfra/c, say 1480 ; but all these are modern and can only hazard a 
guess on the point. Garcilaso alone gives a date which can be recon- 
ciled with what we know of the life of Columbus in Portugal. He says : 
"About 1484, it may be a year before or a year after" [Comentdrios 
Ratles, Book I., chap, iii., Markham's translation, vol. I., p. 20). In 
default of any other we accept this indication. If the story be true, it 
can only have taken place during the last years of Columbus' slay in 


Huelva, named Alonso Sanchez, 117 appears to have sailed 

111 The Pilots name. — Neither Las Casas, nor Oviedo, nor any of 
the authors who relate this story before Garcilaso, i.e. before 1609, 
mentions the name of the pilot; Gdmara, Acosta, and Fructuoso even 
assert that it is not known. AH those who wrote after Carcilaso follow 
him by saying it was Alonso Sdnchez. Father Ayres de Cazal, neverthe- 
less, gives him the Christian name of Francisco (Corografia, vol. I., p. a\ 
As to his nationality, Garcilaso is also the first to assert that he was from 
Huelva, and was therefore an Andalucian. Oviedo, Gomara, and Fruc- 
tuoso relate that some think he was an Andalucian, others a Portuguese 
or a Basque. Modern Portuguese writers are ready enough to claim 
him as a countryman, and make him out to have been a native of 
Cascaes in Portugal, but they give no evidence in support of their 
assertion. M. Eudes, who has searched the Portuguese archives for 
ice of this person, has found nothing. The Basque origin of 
this pilot has also its supporters. Cleirac does not hesitate to say that 
"les Castilians ont pris a t:\che de derober les francais de la premiere 
atteinte de 1'isle alhlantique qu'on nomme Indcs occidentaies," and that 
"le pilote, lequel porta la premiere nouvelle a Christophle Colomb et 
luy donna la ennnaissance ct I'acircssc dc ce monde nouveau, fut un de 
nos basques terre-neu tiers " (Us es coustuines de la mer, t66t, p. 152). 
Father G. de Henao also says that this pilot was a Biscayan, and that 
he made his confidences to Columbus at Madeira on returning from 
cod-fishing (Avcriguaciones de las antiguedades de Cantabria, Salamanca, 
vol. I., 1689 ; Book 1., chap, iv., pp. 25-30). Finally, in one of the pieces 
of the Co/lection de manuserils relatifs a la nouvelU France, published 
at Quebec in 1883, there is mentioned a manuscript entitled "Descrip. 
n de la mer Oceane," which says that the New World was discovered 
by a French pilot of Saint-Jean-de-Lui, who was thrown by a violent 
on the American coast. Returning to Europe he "communiqua 
e qu'il avait faite a Coulon chez lequel i lmourut" (loc. cil., vol. I., 
No. III., p. 7). All that we are told of this manuscript is that it figured 
in the catalogue of one Alexis Monteil, printed at Paris in the Seven- 
teenth Century. Let us add that, according to M. Ducere, some think 
this pilot was Juan de La Cosa, a native of Santona, who accompanied 
Columbus on his first voyage (Reeherekes hisloriques sur la pfahe de la 
morue, Pau, 1893, p. 29). The partisans for the Basque origin of this 
pilot appear, however, less convinced that the people of Huelva and 
Cascaes, who, a few years back, proposed to raise a statue to Sanchez 
in each of those towns. 


from one of the ports of the Spanish peninsula llB on a < 
mercial voyage to England and Flanders. 119 His vessel was 
laden with such goods as were then shipped to those countries 
(Las Casas), and with provisions (Oviedo). His crew con- 
sisted of seventeen persons (Garcilaso). On reaching the 
open sea an easterly gale sprang up (Grimara), which drove 
the vessel out of her course. The gale continuing for twenty- 
eight or twenty-nine days (Garcilaso), the sailors were carried 
to a region unmarked on any chart (G6mara). It was the 
Antilles (Las Casas). They landed on one of them (Oviedo), 
Hispaniola (Las Casas),' 10 and found that the natives went 
naked (Oviedo). The pilot took down exactly the bearings 
of the island, shipped water, as also wood (Oviedo), and 
again set sail. 

On the homeward journey, which was long and painful, 
for much time was lost in searching for the course, and 

118 Las Casas says he sailed from one of the ports of Spain ; but in his 
time the term Spain extended to the whole Peninsula. Las Casas adds 
that he does not recall if the port were named, but he seems to think it 
was one of the ports of Portugal (Historia, vol. I., p. 103). 

11D Las Casas, vol. L, p. 103. Oviedo only mentions England as the 
destination {loc. at., vol. L, p. 13). Garcilaso and Gdmara say that this 
pilot's caravel, according to some, ran between the Canaries and 
Madeira ; according to others, between Portugal and San Jorge da Mina 
on the Western Coast of Africa 

130 Las Casas in the summary of his fourteenth chapter, which is 
entirely devoted to this history, and which was written at Hispaniola, 
says it was at that island (estti isla) the pilot landed. Further on 
(p. 104) he adds, " to these isles," meaning thereby the Antilles : finally, 
a few lines lower down, he relates that the Indians remembered white 
men who wore beards visiting Hispaniola before Columbus. For Las 
Casas, therefore, there existed no doubt as to its being Hispaniola that 
was discovered by the pilot. Oviedo and Gdmara do not name the 
island. After Las Casas the first to say it was Hayti is Garcilaso, who 
docs not appear to have known the manuscripts of Las Casas. 


provisions became scarce (Garcilaso), the greater part of the 
crew fell sick and died. The survivors, numbering three, 
four, or five, 111 among whom was the pilot Sanchez — if that .. 
were his name— at last fetched Madeira, 1 — where Columbus, 
who then dwelt on that island, gave them refuge. Worn out 
by the privations and labours of this journey, to which is 
assigned a duration of four or five months, perhaps more 
(Oviedo), they too soon died. But their secret did not die 
with them. The pilot who breathed his last in the house of 
Columbus, whose friend he is said to have been, 123 touched 
by the kindness he had received from him, gave his host, 
as a mark of his gratitude, all the observations he had taken 
as to the position of the island and the course to be steered 
in order to reach it, which observations had been carefully 
written down (Las Casas). 

The critics have given no belief to this tale, It has 

131 Three or four according to Oviedoand Frucluoso ; Garcilaso says 
five, and adds that the whole crew had consisted of seventeen persons 
(toe. at.). 

x ** The fact that Madeira was the point of arrival is stated in precise 
terms by Las Casas. Oviedo says opinions differ on this point : accord- 
ing to some it was Madeira, according to others it was the Cape de 
Verde islands that the pilot fetched on his return. Gdmara mentions 
the Azores as being one of the places at which the pilot is reported to 
have landed, but he lets it be seen that in his opinion this extraordinary 
journey ended at Madeira (Histiiria, chap. xiv.). Fructuoso, Garibay, 
Mariana only name Madeira. Garcilaso gives quite a different version : 
according to him it was at Terccira that Sanchez landed on his return 
{toe. tit., chap. iii.). 

1 ls The two oldest chroniclers of the legend, Las Casas and Oviedo, 
say the pilot was the friend of Columbus. Oviedo speaks of a map 
which it would seem the pilot had begged Columbus to make under his 
direction. Las Casas uses pretty much the same language (See vol. I., 
p. too). 


generally been supposed to have been inspired from a feeling 
of jealousy or ill-will against Columbus, and, somewhat with- 
out sufficient examination, it has been summarily rejected. 
TWs arbitrary judgement calls for revision, when it may 
appear it was formed without sufficient knowledge of the 
origin of the story, and has been based rather on sentimental 
grounds than critical considerations. 

IV. — Examination of the Sources of the Story. — 
Setting aside Captain Duro, m and perhaps one or two 
more, 125 all the writers whose opinion is of value in such 
matters, from Washington Irving, 125 the first and fullest 
historian of Columbus, down to Mr Harrisse, m the most 

m Duro (Cesireo Fernandez), 1892— La Tradicidn de Alonso S&nchez 
de Huelva descubridor de Ticrras incdgmtas (Boletin de la Real Acadtmia 
de la Histdria, Madrid, 1892, tome xxi., pp. 33-55). 

A serious critical study, which decides in favour of the authenticity 
of the legend. Captain Duro had already touched on this subject in 
his criticism of the work of Count Roselly de Lorgues on the posthumous 
history of Columbus (Coldn y la histdria pdstuma, etc., Madrid, 1885, 
pp. 65 et seq.\ in Nebuldsa de Coldn, 1890, and in his Pinzdn, 1892. 
M. Emile Travers has given an impartial and well executed study on 
this tradition based on Captain Duro's work : Alonso S&nchez de Huelva 
et la tradition qui lui attribue la dtcouverte du nouveau Monde, Paris, 
A. Picard. Caen, H. Delesques, 1892, in 8°, p. 46. 

125 We may name the former President of the Geographical Society of 
Lisbon, Senhor Lucien Cordeiro {La part des Portugais dans la 
de'couverte de t Amc'rique, Lisbon and Paris, 1876, in 8°, pp. 37-46), and 
the President of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Sir C. Mark- 
ham, who does not find the story improbable. Note to his English 
edition of Garcilaso (Hakluyt Society), vol. I., pp. 24-26. 

120 Irving (Washington), 1828 — History of the Life and Voyages of 
Columbus, London, 4 vols., in 8°, Appendix XL, Defauconpret's French 
edition, 1828, 4 vols., in 8°, Appendix. 

127 Harrisse (Henry), 1884 — Christoj>he Colomb, vol. L, p. 106 and pp. 

-- - -,.o 


competent of the Columbists, regard as baseless the story 
we have just narrated; 128 insomuch that those who believe 
it are chiefly writers whose want of study, whose childish 
methods of criticism, and frequently whose prejudice leave 
them without authority when pronouncing judgement in a 
case of this kind. 118 

Among all the contemporary accounts of this story 
that have come down to us there are four which, for 
different reasons, deserve to be considered. They are: 
Oviedo's, which was the first to be printed ; Las Casas', 
which dates from the very time when the tale was first 

la Among the most weighty we may ctte : Robertson, Hist, of America 
(1777), note xvii. to vol. I. French edition (1828), vol. I., note 33. 
Humboldt (1836), Examen critique, vol. I., p. 125; vol. II., p. 155. 
Gaffarel, Histoire de la dtcoiruerte de I'Am/rigue, 1892, vol. I., pp. 49-52. 
We will add : Juan P&ez de Gusman, Ptecursoris Jabulosos de Colin .- 
Alonso Sanchez de Huelva. In La Ilustracidn Espaiiola y Americana, 
Madrid, 30th March 1492. He is one of the few Spaniards who reject 
the tradition. 

m With but rare exceptions, nearly all the Spanish and Portuguese 
writers admit the authenticity of the legend. In addition to those 
already mentioned we can name: Couto (Don Jose" Ferrer de), 1857, 
Colin y Alonso SAn^hcz, Madrid ; Leal (Baldomero de Lorenzo y), 1892, 
Cristobal Colin y Alonso Sdnc/ies 6 el primer dcscudrimiYnto del nuevo 
mundo, Jerez, in 8°, pp. 38-310 ; Alderete (Bernardo de), 1614, Vdrias 
antigiiedades de Espana, Antwerp, in 4°; Solorzano, 1629, De Jure 
Indiarum, etc., Book L, chap, v., Nos. 6 and 7, vol. I., p. 29, Lyons, 
1672 ; Caro (Rodrigo), 1634, Antiguedddes y printipddo de la ilustrissima 
Ciud&d de Sevllla, Seville, Book III., chap. 76; Orellana (Piiarre y), 
1639, Vardnes iliislres del nuevo mundo, Madrid, chap, ii, ; Ferreras 
(J. de), 1727, Histdria de Espana, Madrid, t. VIIL, p. 128, French 
edition, Paris, 1757 ; Cazal (Father Manuel Ayres de), 1S17, Corografia 
Brazilica . . . Rio de Janeiro, 2 vols., Introduction, p. 2 ; Lima (Abreu 
de), 1839, Synofisis o deduccAo chrolwhgica in Meinoria sabre as colonial 
de Portugal, Paris, 2 vols., in 8°; Ascnsio (Joaquin Torres), 1892— Preface 
of the Spanish translation of P. Martyr's Decades. 


mooted abroad ; G6mara's, the first printed account where- 
in it is stated to be true, and Garcflaso de la Vega's, 
which completes the story with details unknown to his 

V. — OVTEDO. — Up to the present Oviedo's account has 
received most attention ; it has been the fountain of 
inspiration for the greater number of authors who have 
told the story after him. It is the only account of which 
critics have asked, did it contain the elements of truth. 
When this chronicler gave it to the world in printed form 
it had already been current for at least twenty years, and 
Columbus had been dead more than ten years. 130 Very 
abort though this period may be, the tale might already 
differ from the one first put into circulation, that is to say, 
*oon after the first voyage of Columbus. If Oviedo had 
<li%cuhned its authenticity, if he had even only given some 
indication of its origin, of the persons who believed it, 
'ft \\\n motives he himself had for calling it in question, 
w: tti'i0it have obtained some light from such information ; 
1/ut his recital, although fairly circumstantial, contains 
nothing of the kind. All we can gather from his account 
is tliat the talc had currency in his day, that every one 
did not tell it exactly in the same way, and that he him- 
sdf did not believe it. 

This last jxjint has its importance. Oviedo was an 
i:xat:t, judicious, and extremely impartial chronicler, and 

l ' M From Las Casas we know that the birthplace of the legend of the 
unknown pilot was Hispaniola ; but Oviedo did not go to the New 
World until 1514, and it was not until some years later that he fixed his 
abode in Hispaniola. 



lat he rejected the story should, one would think, 
at first glance, suffice to settle the question of its authen- 
ticity. It is thus, in fact, that the greater number of 
writers have decided. Perhaps, however, they have not 
paid enough attention to his style of expression. After 
relating the facts, Oviedo concludes as follows: — "No one 
can affirm with certainty that things really occurred after 
this fashion ; for my part I think the talc is false." How- 
ever, he immediately adds the reason for his incredulity : 
" For, as says Saint Augustine, it is better to doubt of things 
unseen titan to wrangle over uncertain things." 131 Conse- 
quently, according to Oviedo, no one knew the truth of 
this story that was the gossip of the streets, and if he 
(Oviedo) did not pin his faith to it, it was neither because 
its falsehood was apparent, nor that he had cause to think 
it was fabricated, but for the simple reason that, ignorant 
as we arc of the truth, it is better to hold asserted facts as 
false than needlessly to discuss them on insufficient grounds. 
Oviedo evidently agreed with the poet Gray: — 

"Where ignorance is bliss, 
Tis folly to be wise." 

At any rate we cannot see here a categorical and down- 
right denial. Elsewhere, by saying Columbus was urged 
on through his conviction that his grounds were sure, 
whether this conviction was due to the reported revelations 
made to him by a pilot, or whether it came to him through 
his own study, 133 Oviedo implicitly admits the story may 

m " Para mi yo lo tengo por false, 6 como dic.e el Augustino : Melius 
est dubilare de ocultis, quam litigare de incer/i's" {Histdria ginenit 
Book II., chap, ii., vol. I., p. 13). 

ln Zi». at., Book II., chap, iv., vol. I., p. 18, col. 2. 


be true. Thus Oviedo in his day looked at the question 
as we do in ours: either Columbus had information or 
he worked on rational data. 

VI. — Las Casas. — But even though Oviedo had expressed 

a categorical and well-reasoned doubt on the truthfulness of 
this history, his opinion could scarcely carry weight against 
that of a man who was infinitely better qualified to know the 
truth on this point We refer to Las Casas. If indeed 
Oviedo be the first who has printed the story of the name- 
less pilot, and if it be true, as Mr Harrisse says, that most of 
those who repeat it borrow from him, while embellishing 
it with new found details, it is inaccurate to say that he was 
the first to gather up the tale. The first to take notice of it 
was Las Casas. Las Casas, who is wrongfully accused of 
being among those who have slavishly copied Oviedo almost 
word for word, 133 owes nothing on this point to the historio- 
grapher of the Indies. His account, though it records pretty 
nearly the same facts, differs from that of Oviedo in several 
details ; he also obtained it under more favourable conditions 
as well as at an earlier period — indeed we can, very nearly, fix 
the date. It is an admitted fact that Hispaniola (Hayti) 
— the real theatre of the important events of the dis- 
covery and conquest IM where several of the first discoverers 
dwelt : Ojeda, Morales, Matheos, Bastidas among others 
— was the real cradle of the story; it was there Las 
Casas heard it, and there too, in all probability, although he 
does not say so, Oviedo picked it up. Had he heard it 

lsl Las Casas, Gomara, and Garibay repeal this legend, copying almost 
word for word Oviedo, who is clearly their only authority, says Mr 
Harrisse (C/i. Co/ami, vol. I., p. 106). 

m /bid., vol. I., p. 103. 


elsewhere, far from giving weight to his version, it would 
have lessened its value. Now, Las Casas preceded Oviedo in 
Hispaniola by a dozen years: he first went there in 1502, 
and he informs us it was shortly after his arrival in 
the island that he heard the story of the pilot from the 
mouths of the very men who related it. Las Casas further- 
more says that these tellers of the story were the men among 
whom he lived, the very companions of Columbus ; the men 
who had sailed with Columbus on his first voyage, who had 
come with him to people the island, and who had helped him 
in his discoveries. 116 

Las Casas' version of the story of the unknown pilot 
is therefore the oldest that we have ; it is even the oldest it is 
possible to have, for it dates from within a few years at most 
of the very period when it was first set afoot. On this 
ground his account is of far more value than Oviedo's ; it also 
casts more light upon the affair. Las Casas, like Oviedo, 
bears witness to the fact that belief in the history was 
general ; but he is far more affirmative and explicit on this 
point. While Oviedo declares his disbelief in the tale because 
proof of its authenticity is not forthcoming, Las Casas, 
contrary to what has been too lightly asserted, considers 

: here what ' 

rrenlly said, what v 

believed at this period, and what I then learned, when, in the early 
days, I found myself in these regions. Tt very frequently happened, 
in fact, among us all who then dwelt in this Spanish isle (this chapter 
appears to have been actually written in Hayti), not alone among 
those who made the first voyage with Don Christopher Columbus 
and who came with him to people the island, but also among those 
who arrived some time afterwards — thai we discoursed among 
ourselves of the cause which determined the admiral to undertake 
the discovery of these Indies" (HistMa, Book I., chap. xiv. ; voL I., 


it as perfectly established. True he, like Oviedo, expresses a 
doubt ; but we shall see that this doubt in no way bears on 
the reality of the adventure. 

It is after explaining the different causes, which, according 
to him, were instrumental in forming the conviction of 
Columbus and led him to venture on his great enterprise, 
that Las Casas comes to the story of the unknown pilot, 
a story which in his time, he explains, was given out as the 
determining cause {la causa mas efieds) of Columbus' 
vocation. It is on this point, and on this alone, that Las 
Casas expresses some doubt. For him, Columbus was 
guided by the hand of God, Who caused to happen such 
circumstances as should lead him to the end He had traced 
out for him. The unknown pilot's adventure may have been 
one of the means chosen by God to work on Columbus ; 
but was it, as every one said and believed, the decisive event 
which finally convinced Columbus? Las Casas says he will 
not affirm that it was, and he explains why: it is because the 
means chosen by God to lead Columbus whither He wished 
he should go are so numerous and effective that it little 
matters whether this one were or were not of the number. na 

im w e give a translation of the whole passage : " To end with this 
question of the motives which settled Columbus to propose the dis- 
covery of these Indies, we are going to record the common belief, 
in times passed, after which it is admitted that the most determining 
cause of his resolution (to undertake the discovery of the Indies), (la 
causa mas tjkiis ik su fituU determination), is the one we are going 
(o lay bare in this chapter. I do not affirm that it was so (la cual 
(causa) yo no ajirma), for in very truth the reasons and circumstances 
which God suggested to Columbus for this end are so numerous and 
of such a nature that only a small number, all for a greater reason, 
were enough and more than enough to decide him lo carry out his 
scheme" (Hi'sfilna, Book 1., chap. siv. ; vol. I., p. 103). 


Thus it is not upon the authenticity of the history of the pilot 
that Las Casas refuses to give an affirmative opinion ; he 
hesitates to believe, what so many persons alleged, that it was 
the information given by the pilot which decided Columbus. 137 
As to the history itself, Las Casas so little doubts it that 
he does not hesitate to say it comes from persons who knew 
it well, perhaps even from Columbus himseif; 138 and, as has 
been already mentioned, he remarks in support of its 
authenticity that the Indians of Cuba asserted that white and 
bearded men had visited their, isle before those who accom- 
panied Columbus. 139 Finally, Las Casas closes the chapter, 
exclusively devoted to this matter, by saying that, whatever 
may have been the motive which convinced Columbus, he 
was as certain of discovering what he discovered, of finding 
what he found, as though he had it locked in his own 
chamber with his own key. 140 

137 If any further doubt existed as to this being Las Casas' meaning, 
the passage which follows, wherein, three pages on, he repeats, while 
accentuating, what he has already said, would make such doubt 
disappear : " Here is what was currently said in the island among 
us, and what was reckoned as certain, as I have already stated, and 
it was looked upon as a matter on which there was no doubt {como a 
cosa no dittUsd) that it was this which had decided Columbus " (loc, cit., 
p. 106). But, adds Las Casas, one may or may not believe this, because, 
in truth, as has been already said, there were so many examples, 
evidence, and natural reasons for surely guiding Columbus that it 
amply sufficed {ibid,). 

IM . . . 6 por ventura quien de la boca del mismo almirante 6 en 
todo 6 en parte, 6 por alguna palabra se lo oyere {Histiria, Book 1., 
chap. xiv. ; vol. I., p. 104). 

^ Hid. 

IW Esto, al menos, me parecc que sin alguna duda podemos creer r 
que 6 por esta ocasirin, 6 por las otras, 6 por parte dellas, 6 por todas 
juntas, cuando el se determine, tan cierto iba de descubrir !o que descubrio 
y hallar lo que halld, como si dentro de una camara, con su propia 


Las Casas' declarations and the details he gives in 
this chapter, which so many critics have handled without 
seeing their real drift, settle the question of the genuineness 
of the alleged voyage of the unknown pilot who is said 
to have instructed Columbus. After carefully weighing 
the terms in which Las Casas tells the story, it is difficult 
— nay impossible — to believe it has no other foundation 
than envy and jealousy. It is true Columbus had adver- 
saries, enemies whom his haughty character greatly in- 
censed ; he was a foreigner, without family ties in Spain, 
and among the Castilians, who were witnesses and perhaps 
helpers to his success, there were certainly some who 
thought themselves more able than this Genoese, and 
who were vexed at his sudden rise to lofty fortune. In 
such a frame of mind it is not surprising that complaints 
and envious comments should be set afloat with the object 
of lessening the personal share Columbus had in his dis- 
covery. It is therefore possible that at Hayti— which at 
this time was a very hot-bed of intrigues — facts were 
mentioned and passed from mouth to mouth, being dis- 
torted in the process, which originally were of no import- 
ance, but to which slander succeeded in giving a complexion 
unfavourable to the great discoverer. But Las Casas, who 
was a sincere admirer of Columbus, could not be either 
the dupe or the accomplice of such tale-mongering ; and if 
he believed the history, as there is every reason to suppose 
he did, it is not easy to perceive what motives should 
make us more sceptical. 

Have, lo tuviera (ice. a'/., p. 106). This is not the only time Las 
Casas expresses this idea ; he returns to it when speaking of the 
map which he thinks is Toscanclli's. (Sec vol. I., pp. 96, 316, and 631.) 


VII. — GuMARA. — Gomara's account of the pilot's story 
is the most discredited of the four. This chronicler, who 
is very credulous and generally lacks judgement, has 
recorded the story in very nearly the same words as 
Oviedo, and, without adducing any fresh proof, he endeavours 
to show that the real discoverer of America was this unlucky 
pilot whose very name has escaped posterity." 1 According 
to him it is not true that Columbus was a man learned 
in Latin and cosmography, or that he was well read 

'" Extract from Giimara. — This passage from Gomara is somewhat 
curious ; il comes after his account of the history of the pilot : "Thus 
tt was Christopher Columbus had knowledge of the Indies. And in 
order that I may forget nothing, some have wished to say that Columbus 
knew the Latin tongue and that he was well learned in cosmography, 
which science incited him to search for the country of the Antipodes, 
and the rich Cipanga, noted by Marco Polo, through having read Plato 
in his Timceus and in his Critics, where he speaks of a very large island 
called Atlantea, and of a wooded country larger than Asia and Africa. 
And also through having read Aristotle or Theophrastus, who tells 
how certain Carthaginian merchants, sailing from the Straits of Gibraltar 
towards the setting sun and south, discovered, after lengthy voyages, 
a large unpeopled island nevertheless well furnished with navigable 
rivers. Hut quitting these authors, 1 say that Christopher Columbus 
was not learned but was only of good judgement, and that acquiring 
knowledge of these new countries, by the report of this dead pilot, 
he made enquiries from learned persons as to what the ancients 
said of other countries and of other worlds : among others he much 
communicated with a Brother Juan Perez de Marchena, who lived 
at the monastery of La Rabida: by such communications he thought 
for sure that which the pilot had left him by mouth or by 
writing. It seems to me, had Columbus known by his own learn- 
ing where were the Indies, long before, without coming to Spain, 
he would have treated this affair with the Genoese, who then overran 
the world ; but he never believed about it, until that he met with this 
Spanish pilot, whom he found by the risks of the sea and by the 
Divine Will" {Hist, de Ins Iniiiai, 1552, chap. xiv.). 


in the authors who have spoken of islands and lands 
the west. He was simply a man of sound judgement, who, 
becoming acquainted with the discovery of this pilot, took 
advice from those more learned than himself, especially 
from Father Juan Perez de Marchena among others, 
whom he met at the Monastery of La Rabida, and thus 
acquired the conviction that what the pilot had reported 
was true. It seems to me, adds Gomara, that if Columbus 
by his own learning had arrived at a knowledge of the 
situation of the Indies, he would have treated with the 
Genoese, who then overran the world, for their discovery; 
whereas it was only after meeting with the Spanish pilot 
that his conviction was formed on this matter. 14 - Thus, 
according to Gomara, it was indeed at Madeira or in 
Portugal that Columbus met our pilot, but it was only 
after his return to Spain and his conferences with Father 
de Marchena that he was aware of the value of the infor- 
mation he had received, and thought of utilising it. Serious 
objections may be raised to this portion of Gomara's 
version, and it is not difficult to understand, coming from 
so unsafe a writer, that such statements should have put 
critics on their guard. It has therefore been held, and 
not without some reason, that this chronicler, who is often 
flighty and partial, has merely copied Oviedo's account, 
adding thereto a compliment suggested by that very 
narrow-minded patriotism of which Columbus was long 
the victim, and which may be found, even to this day, 
among some Spanish authors. 

It is, however, necessary to distinguish between the 
tradition that was afloat respecting this adventure and 

" a Gomara : f/isloria, chap. xiv. 


what Gomara may have added to it. As regards the 
tradition. Las Casas has related it exactly in the same 

If it be true, as the Bishop of Chiapas affirms, that even 
the companions o( Columbus, those who were in a position 
to be well-informed — his own remark — often told this 
story, and if they did not hesitate to say it was the revela- 
tions of the said pilot that decided Columbus, one cannot 
well see why Gdmara also might not have heard this tradi- 
tion from those who related it. It is true he did not live, 
as Las Casas and Oviedo had lived, among the first dis- 
coverers; but, although he was not born until 1510, he 
may have known many of them. A sufficiently lengthy 
list could be made of Columbus' own companions who 
lived long enough to have enabled Gomara to consult 
them." 3 At any rate, he lived in their centre, surrounded 
by people who must have been equally well acquainted 
with the tale of the nameless pilot. These were very 
favourable conditions, such as historians do not always find, 
for arriving at a well-balanced decision on the facts to 

1,3 We may cite among others : Gonzalo Martin, who formed part 
of the second voyage of Columbus, and who was still alive in 1535 ; 
Hernan Ptfrez Mattes, who accompanied Columbus on his first two 
voyages, and who was cot dead in 1536; Francisco Nino, Columbus' 
pilot on his second voyage, and the son of another pilot of the 
discoverer; Nino was living in 1557; Arias F/rts Pimin, and his 
brother Juan Martin, of the great I'iniiin fajnily ; they were only 
about thirty or thirty-five years old when Columbus died ; Diego Martin, 
Columbus' pilot on his third voyage, and who long survived him. 
See, for a further list of pilots and cosmographers who lived for 
many years after Columbus, the most valuable Biographical Notes Mr 
Harrisse has added to his great work, The Discovery of North America, 


the original sources, is also the most circumstantial. 
Garcilaso knew in 1609 what Oviedo and Gomara ignored 
eighty and fifty years earlier : he knew the name and the 
nationality of the pilot, as well as several details of the 
voyage unknown to his forerunners. This minute record- 
ing of incidents looks suspicious, and it is permissible to 
inquire whether Garcilaso, who was gifted with a vivid 
imagination, has not succumbed to the temptation of em- 
bellishing his tale by adding thereto some fanciful touches? 
An affirmative answer may be given to this question with- 
out destroying the credit of the foundation of the story. 
The name and nationality of the pilot are of small account ; 
the essential point is to know certainly whether any pilot, 
whoever he may have been, thinking he had discovered a 
new island to the west, communicated the fact to Colum- 
l;u», who drew his profit from the information. On this 
fniint the evidence of Garcilaso accords with the evidence 
'.f the others, and there is this to observe about what he 
*»y», that, like Las Casas, he does not think he injures the 
({real Genomic by relating these facts. With the reserva- 
tion we have indicated, the Inca's account may be placed 
kKJi t)ir other three, and may in great measure be reckoned 
M aullwnUc 

1 I fr.nrtWAND CoLUMBua— In the book which 
j*mm *» the work of Columbus' son is also to be found 
M »Wf allusion to the story of the pilot; we read therein 
tf»f Ittfl foundation of this tale lies in the adventure of 
VlnumU l)Uz. ,u ' The story of this Diaz would seem to 

,.,n\u ile Ovitiia writes, in his History of the Indies, that 
liari a letter (una Ullera) in which the Indies were 


> connection with that of our pilot, and the explan- 
ation given in the Hisiorie would be valueless were it 
not supposed to come from the son of Columbus himself; 
but precisely on this point there is ground for express- 
ing a doubt. Chapter xiii. of Las Casas, wherein he re- 
lates the history of all the pilots whose sea adventures 
had been jotted down by Columbus, corresponds word 
for word with chapter ix. of the Hisiorie, which, however, 
has the addition of the few lines giving the above explana- 
tion. It is therefore clear that one of these chapters 
has been copied from the other ; and were we to accept 
the common belief, that all those parts of Las Casas' book 
which are also to be found in the Hisiorie were borrowed 
by him from the unknown Spanish text of this latter work, 
he would himself be the copyist The theory which makes 
Las Casas, a writer who is most punctilious in indicating 
the sources of his information, the plagiarist of a book 
which no one ever saw will not, in our opinion, stand the 
test of a careful comparison of the text of the Hist6ria 
with that of the Hisiorie; but, even admitting that this 
hypothetical Spanish version of the Hisiorie ever existed, 
it was certainly not from that Las Casas copied his 
thirteenth chapter, since he declares he borrowed it from 
the notes of Columbus himself. 1 * Chapter ix. of the Hisiorie 

described by some one who had discovered them before. The matter did 
not happen thus nor otherwise, but in the following manner : 'Vincent 
Diaz, a Portuguese of Tavira, returning from Guinea to the Tercera islands, 
and having passed the island of Madeira, which he left east of him, 
saw, or imagined he saw, an island, which he certainly concluded to 
be land ' " {Historic, chap. ix.). 

IM "En sus libros de memtirias" (HisMria, Book I., chap, xiii., vol. I., 

P . ,01). 


ii .1 t » i » 

is therefore not frcsa Ac pea of Columbus' son ; it has 

t™ Las Casas by die authors of 

whn have aAied the few lines above- 

w&n cr^maTy u fuiurd firom copying the 

recounts the adventure 
des tr o y s all the bear- 
ing at die f^ipIanaCttHL gwei 6w the Historic 

X — THE Srcwr or the Pilot is probably True.— 

T* res um e: die testmaajr of Las Casas alone, testimony 
^tanned under the anfitMns we have i n d ica t ed, and 
rep^ited by die man wlto umrtfrUtrd himself at once the 
hi$*»riaa and die pnegvrat ot Columbus, suffices to 
ient*nd beiief tor the advescaie be is the first to relate to 
:*$> Even though the subsequent rdatiocs we possess of 
die tiKJdeot went indeed omed one from another, which 
: ^ Ui :fc*>f :mprcb*bie. dtis wctrid rx* suffice to make us 
xttete :h*c toe tvumiacca cf tie scory was apocryphal 
I: nay ,^e« ie :&*£ m ex^ressas^: thi> opinion we do not 
^o a» ^tv.Hi£ft. la rucx tie jygq ia epcss of the history of 
;»V ^ioc v^tt*XHiC jl s*une is is weC established as that of 
tun* oriK*s wiuc& :te cee dccbc& We have already 
cw *ttc<»cvth *ie« :&**&eg v>t TcecandlTs letter to 
Vut'it*, ;v ;*c f*ct A** ^^ crieti» of certainty, when 
^>skv v ^>sv*-<* metres* v«w is a remarkable manner 
vk: *♦:<> ^ -v.y**** re«» Tis» ewrybody believes in 
v a^Xnnn-^ ^ ^ :eCKr. Ae ordinal of which has 
X\m vvvvf > ^ «*A **£ : ^ existence of which rests 
vVxnA sS . ^v ,hnv\v o* l*s C^sas/* who himself only 

* ^^.^w: >;su.tK^ Nw> 5&* «» witness as Las Casas; it 
^ * ... w-y^ ^ -*** * w *««*» *n? in fcict but one, for 



knew on the subject what he found among the papers of 
Columbus ; whereas all the world doubts the story of the 
unknown pilot, although its genuineness is attested by the 
very companions of Columbus ! 

There would therefore appear to be no justifiable reason 
for setting aside as apocryphal the fact that a pilot, whose 
name remains unknown or uncertain, had discovered, or 
thought he had discovered, an island or new country, the 
position of which he had indicated to Columbus. A 
distinction must, however, be drawn between the reality of 
the fact and the reality of the discovery, which may have 
been wholly fanciful. As was the case with so many more 
whose accounts Columbus collected, this pilot may have 
thought he saw an island or land known to no one 
before, whereas he may have all along been the victim of 
an illusion. 148 Still we have seen that Las Casas believed in 
this discovery, and, unless we completely reject his account, 
we must admit that Columbus also believed it. Besides, in 
itself, the adventure was not impossible, and it would even be 
surprising at the period in question, when all thoughts were 
turned to new discoveries and so many sailors were engaged 

undoubtedly one of the two has copied the other. In general opinion 
it is Las Casas who has copied Ferdinand Columbus ; in ours it is the 
compilers of the book, published under the name of the son of 
Columbus, who have copied Las Casas. Nor do we ignore that 
Columbus is supposed to have copied with his own hand the letter 
to Martins, which might be taken as evidence of its authenticity ; but 
this autograph was only discovered in 1871, and even before that the 
letter was thought authentic 

i« During the first voyage of Columbus, Martin Pinzdn, Columbus 
himself, and all the crew, for twenty-four hours— from the 25th to the 
26th September— thought they had land in sight. It was but a sky 


therein, if some among them were not carried, accidentally or 
otherwise, either to one of the Antilles or Newfoundland, or 
even to the Continent itself, as indeed happened later to 
CabraL. The fact may well have occurred, even though 
left no trace behind. 

XI. — The Council of the Indies knew the 
Story of the Pilot.— Thus there were certain facts 
the knowledge of which might damage Columbus ; so it 
was to his interest to deny them if they were false and to 
stifle them if they were true: for the situation remained 
the same for him whether the story of the nameless pilot 
were true or false. Let the tale be authentic or not, the 
fact that it was current from mouth to mouth did him harm, 
and in either case his interest lay in its not being believed. 
We must, however, remark that the mischief this tale could 
do to Columbus himself was chiefly of a moral character ; 
it struck at his self-respect His own glory and renown 
required that the chief merit of his discovery should not 
be attributed to another. This was the only point where 
this ungrateful story touched him personally. The case 
was far different with his heirs and successors, in whom 
the Crown was disinclined to recognise a right to the 
privileges, honours, and profits wherewith it had repaid 
the services of the great Genoese. They had a real and 
material interest in not allowing credence to such a story 
as the one told about the pilot in question, a story in which 
the crafty King Ferdinand and those who envied Columbus 
might find, and did in fact find, grounds, not indeed for 
contesting the importance of the discovery, but the im- 
portance at least of the part he had played therein. 



A few retrospective words of explanation are here 
required. Columbus, when negotiating with the Catholic 
kings, had driven a hard bargain. He had acted as though 
he were absolutely sure of making his discovery, and, as a 
reward, he insisted on an exorbitant price : a title of 
nobility, the tenth part of every kind of revenue accruing 
from the discovered lands, the rank of Admiral with all 
its attendant privileges, and, lastly, the Viceroyalty for 
himself and his direct heirs of all the territories, islands, 
and continents he might discover. u * The extravagance of 
these demands, to which one could only accede by making 
of Columbus, should he succeed, the second personage of 
the kingdom, almost indeed the equal of the monarch, 
frightened, or rather scandalised, the Court, and it wanted 
but little that all negotiations should be broken off. Never- 
theless, it was the Crown that yielded, but it may well be 
believed that, in accepting the terms imposed upon it, 
neither the Court nor Columbus himself foresaw either 
the importance of the discovery of 1492, or the vastness 
of the engagements to which Spain was pledged. So far 
as Ferdinand was himself concerned, there is reason to 
believe he yielded to the exacting terms of Columbus only 
because he had no faith in his success. 

'" The agreement between the Catholic kings and Columbus was 
signed at Granada on the 17th and 30th April 1491 (Navarrete, vol. 
II., Nos. 5-6). On the return of Columbus, Ferdinand and Isabella, by 
a deed signed at Barcelona the 28th May 1493 (Navarrete, vol. II., No. 
41), confirmed and amplified all the privileges and honours previously 
accorded to him and his heirs. The Granada deed was conditional ; 
the titles and benefits granted to Columbus were not to take effect 
unless he succeeded : the Barcelona deed was absolute ; the stipulations 
recorded in the first deed became operative from that day and for ever. 


Spain therefore sought as soon as she could to get rid 
of her bargain. This she did not do immediately after the 
discovery, for its true character was not then revealed ; 
indeed, the marvellous extent of the work Columbus had 
done was unknown until the conquest of Cortes. Columbus 
himself never knew what he had discovered. We should 
greatly err were we to suppose that the man who revealed 
the New World died in possession of the great renown 
time has brought to him. The glory of Columbus 
purely posthumous. The last years of his life were spent 
in obscurity, and we may say that he expired amid the 
indifference of Spain and of that world whose extent he 
had doubled. Only one chronicler took the trouble to record 
the date of his death ; and of those, few enough in number, 
who even mention his name in the fifty years following his 
death, not one, beyond his own two authorised biographers, 
his son Ferdinand and Las Casas, seems to have beheld in 
him a superior man, whose discoveries placed him head 
and shoulders above the other navigators and conquistadores 
of his time. It may be said that Gomara, in spite of his 
levity and absence of critical power, has exactly expressed 
the opinion then in vogue about Columbus, when he says, 
he was a man devoid of education but endowed with sound 
judgement, which enabled him to take advice from those 
who were instructed. If such, then, was the general feeling, 
and the silence that long fell over the name of Columbus 
is an indication of this sentiment which cannot be mistaken, 
it is probable the Court took the same view. The bearing 
of the Catholic king towards the discoverer, during the 
last years of his life, and afterwards towards his heirs, 
' "doubted proof of this. Did, then, the knowledge 



the story of the anonymous pilot contribute towards 
forming this opinion? We cannot but think so, for both 
Las Casas and G6mara agree in saying that the story was 
widely spread. Nor can it be doubted that it was also 
known to the Catholic kings, to King Ferdinand at least, 
for, though not directly mentioned, frequent allusion is 
made to it in the lawsuit Diego Colin instituted against 
the Crown in defence of his rights, and particularly for 
his title of Viceroy, which the Crown refused to recognise. 160 

In the light of these considerations it is possible to under- 
stand Spain's resistance to the pretentions of Columbus and 
his heirs without seeking an explanation of her attitude in 
a feeling of base ingratitude and petty jealousy, as has too 
often been the case. If truly Columbus were merely the 
lucky beneficiary of another's discovery; if the result he 
obtained — no matter how great it might be — were not the 
fruit of his own ideas, were not the outcome of his own 
studies developed and perfected by his personal observations 
and reflections, but were simply the consequence of positive 
information which would have led any other man to the 
same goal ; if, in short, the role he played was confined to 
the faith he placed in the confidences made to him, and to 

150 In the inquiry instituted in 1 5 13 and 1515 on the demand of Diego, 
the king's Attorney- General argued that Columbus had only discovered 
what was already known, and that his undertaking had been suggested 
to him. The story of the unknown pilot is not mentioned, but from 
the questions asked one can see that, in the opinion of the representatives 
of the royal authority, Martin Pinion had played a considerable part 
in the 1492 voyage, and that he had been as well informed as Columbus 
respecting the direction it was necessary to steer the caravels in 
order to find land. See Navarrete, Cot. Viages, vol. III., No. Ixix., the 
ProbaiKas del Fiscal (the Attorney- General's Proofs), and particularly 
question ii. and those following, 


the energy cfiescfiBTOEt ir SatSKam^ to the end that had been 
pointed oat: Am. Spur snipe veSH believe she was not 
bound to recoginse svrn ^srccss 3<r perpetuating exorbitant 
wnim .csncacK ^fit soul mihiTity, and far ex- 
i*e imts ihui'iirrf . but the personal 

In any s^ws. it «a^ -*« m'u^mit iar Columbus to have 
it betieyeit: rfcttir ins* oiaowgy i»t 3esi i c udned easy by his 
haying cwatr irmutt cbfc ~K6ttm?tr at nacher man s confidence ; 
aucL mutwvtsfi it tt*K*t£ iwnnaw Ofcrwfidal to him and his 
hgnr* saimicir UMt 0»«*. tt is ymmt attitude, give ear to 
:tt*rifr rttotfctttrSt >^^ta»»R^ trae to say that, though 
Coiuuhha^ %i yuOMttiy * -j^mi uifta e s t in suppressing the 
ixiiei "hac k i*tot .(MKty §u« w hi ther he was instructed to 
gy, hi^ iir«€ ife*&tfc£fettC^ b«srs rtot only of his name and 
ciofv % ^kv -us** A :»* £«mc$ Jitd honours the Crown now 
sccukxl ,:»54.v3<u :v urtfcaeiu* had far stronger reasons for 
<c*iii& a> **><> 4^» ji **»ct which could only be hurtful to 





I. — The Letters of Toscanelli come from Las 

know the probable motives for inventing the correspondence 
of Toscanelli with Columbus, or, to speak more accurately, we 
know of reasons which suffice to explain this deceit, if such 
existed; let us now see if we cannot discover some indica- 
tion as to its author or authors. Before entering upon this 
search, we may recall, in order to emphasize still more 
what has been previously said : that the very existence of 
the correspondence with which we are engaged rests solely 
on the testimony of Las Casas and of Ferdinand Columbus, 
of whom one, as has been shown, repeats the other. 161 

In fact there is no doubt that the Histiria of Las Casas 
and the Historie duplicate one another on a number of 
points, and that, especially on what concerns Toscanelli, the 
same assertions are to be found in the two works. As we 
have said, it is the general opinion of the critics that all that 
is to be found in the Historie, and that equally appears in 

151 See above, chap, ii., sect. i. 


the Histiria of Las Casas, has been copied by him from Uie 
original memoirs of Ferdinand Columbus. Our point of 
view, which is based on a careful comparison of the two 
texts, is that Las Casas has only taken from these memoirs 
the pages he himself cites as coming from that source. As 
regards all the other passages which are identical in the two 
works, it is evidently the Italian text which has been trans- 
lated from that of Las Casas, whose text cannot come from 
the manuscripts of Ferdinand Columbus, because, among 
other reasons, it contains a multitude of errors which may 
be pardonable in the Bishop of Chiapas, but would be in- 
excusable and quite impossible in a son of Columbus. 

Without further labouring this point, it is enough, for our 
object, to remark that what Las Casas relates about Toscan- 
elli is not among the subjects he admits having borrowed 
from Ferdinand Columbus ; in fact, he really declares the 
contrary by stating that there was brought or remitted to 
him, along with other documents written by the Admiral's 
own hand, the letter to Martins in a Spanish translation, and 
the map which had accompanied the letter, 16 * language he 
would not have used had he found these documents in the 
manuscript history of the discoverer by his son, a work he 
possessed, and from which he frequently quotes. It was 
therefore clearly Las Casas who first stated Toscanelli had 

,M Which letter — the one to Martins — says Las Casas, I have had in 
my possession, translated from the Latin into Spanish {Vuella de latin 
tn romance, Hhtdria, vol. I., p. 92). See also in the same volume, pp. 
278-279, where, speaking of Toscanelli's map, he thus expresses himself: 
"I have it in my possession, with other things of the Admiral himself 
who discovered these Indies, as well as writings in his own hand, which 
have been confided to me : y escrituras de m misma mono que (rajeron 
a mi poder." 


corresponded with Fernam Martins, as also with Columbus. 
But, as he stands absolutely alone in giving this informa- 
tion, the source of which he only vaguely indicates ; and 
since (he tells us so himself) he had never seen the Latin 
text which was the original of the letters he has reproduced 
from a Spanish translation, whose history he either cannot 
or will not give, we are driven to declare that this un- 
supported statement in no way affects the many reasons 
which prove the improbability — not to say impossibility — of 
Toscanelli having ever corresponded with either Martins or 

II. — Papers and Documents in Las Casas' Posses- 
sion. — It being a well-established fact that the existence 
of these letters from Toscanelli rests solely on the bare 
evidence of Las Casas, and, furthermore, there being good 
reason to believe they are apocryphal, it would seem 
possible, could we trace the history of these documents 
alleging that Toscanelli had been consulted by King 
Alfonso and Columbus as to the road to the Indies, to 
point out, if not definitely at least with some plausibility, 
the person responsible for the fraud. How came Las 
Casas into possession of this strange correspondence, which 
ought to have held as important a place in the history of 
the maritime exploits of the Portuguese as in the life of 
Columbus, and which was unknown to so many persons 
well placed to be acquainted with it : a correspondence 
Columbus himself never seems to have known Las Casas 
appearing to be the sole person to whom it was ever 
revealed ? 

We have just seen that the Bishop of Chiapas does 


not clearly explain himself on this point, and that he 
produces Toscanelii's letters without precisely indicating 
whence they came ; but he does allow it to be seen that 
they reached him from some one of Columbus' family. 
There can therefore be no room for doubting that Las 
Casas' source of information as to the relations of 
Columbus with Toscanelli was the great navigator's 
family papers which had been confided to his care, and 
it was from them he took the Spanish translation of the 
letters he has inserted in his history. 

But this decision does not inform us of the real origin 
of these letters, for Las Casas possessed a large number 
of documents appertaining to the family of Columbus, 
all of which did not come from the same quarter. In 
addition to a great part of the discoverer's correspondence, 
which he frequently quotes from the original manuscripts, 
Las Casas possessed the log-book of the first voyage as 
well as the log-book of the third ; he had Bartholomew 
Columbus' papers, which appear to have been of consider- 
able importance; Ferdinand Columbus' manuscripts from 
which he cites extracts, and a heap of documents of a 
confidential and official character, 163 his possession of 
which it is hard to explain, but from which he largely 
drew for the compilation of his book. 

III.— The Source of Las Casas' Documents.— 
Whence came these precious documents? Who could have 

"* See, for fuller information on the family papers of Columbus and 
the other authorities used by Las Casas, the very interesting chapter 
Mr Harrisse has devoled to this subject in his Christopke Colomd, vol. I., 
pp. izittstq. 


confided them to Las Casas? He does not tell us; we 
shall, however, try to make up for his reticence. 

Las Casas returned from America in 1539, and was 
consecrated Bishop at Seville in 1544; shortly afterwards 
he went again to the New World and did not finally come 
back to Spain until 1547, when he settled down at Valla- 
dolid, in the Monastery of San Gregorio, where he 
spent the rest of his days; it is there we may suppose he 
revised those portions of his book already written, and 
completed the remainder. 151 At that period, and for a 
good while before, the most valuable of Columbus' papers 
were locked in an iron safe confided to the care of the 
religious of the Convent of Las Cuevas, near Seville, 
who watched over their charges most scrupulously, and, 
if Las Casas obtained access to them, it was not in all 
probability with their assistance. 155 Perhaps, moreover, 

"* Las Casas says he began his History in [537 ; hut from various 
passages of the text it can be seen he was still working on it in 1552 and 
1561. The earlier of these dates is even mentioned in the first pages of 
the work. It is quite evident that Las Casas, like Oviedo, kept revising 
his book to the last moment ; but there is no doubt it was after 1 547 that 
he wrote and gave the final touch to a great part of it. See the chapter 
of Mr Harrisse's Christopke Colomb, cited in the preceding note. 

'** The Papers of Columbus. — It is not exactly known when Columbus 
entrusted his papers to these religious, who were also the guardians 
of Bartholomew's documents. Bartholomew withdrew his in 1 508 ; 
Columbus' papers remained at this Convent until 1609, at which date 
they passed into the hands of Nuno de Portugal, then recognised as heir 
o the Admiral's estates and titles. But it is clear that Columbus' direct 
ieirs T first Diego I and subsequently Don Luis, had full access to them, 
for their rights were undisputed. So far as the latter is concerned this 
s beyond question, for, from an authentic document, we find that in 1566 
the papers of the Columbus family were placed in the Santa Ana Chapel 


these papers were not indispensable to him ; for they 
must have been chiefly composed of grants and concessions 
to Columbus, duplicates of which, duly authenticated, 
existed elsewhere. It was not so with respect to the 
other papers of Columbus ; his correspondence, his logs, 
the map he had used on his first voyage, and all his works 
in manuscript ; these had naturally passed into the hands 
of his eldest son, Diego, the heir to his titles and estates, 
who was also the second Admiral of the Indies. On 
Diego's death, in 1526, these titles and possessions passed 
to his son and heir, Don Luis Colon, who was subsequently 
third Admiral of the Indies, and became first Duke of 
Veragua, but who was at the time of his father's death a 
minor under the guardianship of his mother, Dofla Maria 
de Toledo. Although we possess no documentary evidence 
to this effect, there is little doubt it was in her hands that 
most of her husband's papers, as also those of Columbus, 
remained, for she alone, during her son's minority, had 
a right to their custody. Nevertheless it is possible that 
some of these papers had already passed, or may then 
have passed, into the hands of Ferdinand Columbus, 
second son of Columbus, and Diego's brother, who was 
the scholar of the family, of which in a manner he was 
also the archivist, and who proposed writing his father's life 
— which, indeed, he accomplished, at least in part — and who 
always displayed a scrupulous care and even jealousy for 
his collections of documents. Ferdinand Columbus died 
in 1539, bequeathing all his collections to his nephew, this 

of the Convent of Las Cuevas, which chapel, says the document, 
belonged to Don Luis Coldn (Memoridt del Pleyto, No. 1014, ajiud 
Harrisse : C. Colomb, vol. II., p. 256). 



same Don Lu/s, who thus became owner of all the deeds, 
papers, books, and manuscripts that had belonged to his 
grandfather, father, and uncle. The bequest of Ferdinand 
Columbus was, it is true, subject to certain conditions, 
the non-observance of which led to the ultimate transfer 
of the entire collection to the Cathedral of Seville ; but 
this did not occur until 1552. Until that date Maria de 
Toledo, first, and after her death her son remained in 
sole possession of Ferdinand's collections, which Mar/a 
removed in 1544 from the dead man's house, in order to 
deposit them in the Convent of the Dominican Friars of 
San Pablo at Seville. Soon afterwards Maria de Toledo 
returned to Hispaniola, the seat of her vice-royalty of the 
Indies, where she had left her son, and where she died 
on the nth May 1549, without having again revisited 
Spain. But shortly afterwards Don Luis came to Spain, 
and for at least two years he was free to do what he liked 
with all the family papers he had inherited. 

Las Casas, who, like Don Luis and Dofla Maria de 
Toledo, had lived in Hispaniola, and who had accompanied 
Maria on her journey to that island, definitely returned from 
the New World, as we have said, in 1547, in order to put 
the last touch to his book in Spain. It is probable he 
brought back with him those papers of Columbus and of 
Diego which may have remained in Hispaniola, and which 
Maria de Toledo probably hastened to place at his disposal, 
since he was writing a book in which the history of her 
family occupied a great place, and she had every reason 
to render his task easy, while gaining at the same time 
his sympathy. It is also very likely that she furnished 
him with authority to have access to the Colombina 


collection which the Dominicans of San Pablo were keeping 
in trust for her son. 

Perhaps Las Casas, who was himself a Dominican and 
a Bishop, did not need authority in order to make use of 
documents placed on deposit in a Convent of his Order. 
At any rate, he was not able to consult them there before 
1547, f° r it was on 'y on tne 7 tn April 1544 that Maria de 
Toledo had deposited them in that Convent, and Las Casas, 
who had been consecrated there only a few days before, 
left shortly afterwards— on the 4th July — for the New World, 
whence he did not return until 1547. Las Casas could 
not therefore have had access to the Colombina without 
the authority of its owners — supposing Maria de Toledo 
had not given him such authority — except from 1547 to 
1550, at which date Don Lufs Col6n, to whom alone hence- 
forth belonged this precious collection, came back to Spain. 

We have now sufficient data on the point we wished 
to clear up. We know that the papers Las Casas mentions, 
and from which he made so many excerpts, were those of 
Columbus himself, of his brother Bartholomew, and of 
his two sons, Diego and Ferdinand ; that is to say, in 
short, all the papers of the discoverer's family 1 we also know 
that, at the time Las Casas came back to Spain to put the 
finishing touch to his History of t/ie Indies, Maria de Toledo 
and her son, Don Lufs, were alone in a position to enable 
him to consult these treasures. We may therefore with 
certainty conclude, that it was first the Vice-Queen of the 
Indies, widow of the second Admiral of the Indies and 
mother of the third, Don Lufs Col6n, and afterwards Don 
Lufs himself, who gave the author of the Historia de las 
Indias leave to examine the documents he has placed under 


such heavy contribution ; documents many of which un- 
fortunately are known to us to-day only through this work. 

IV.— The Forger was not Columbus.— The con- 
clusions we have reached render easier the search for the 
original source whence issued the correspondence attributed 
to Toscanelli. If that correspondence was first produced, 
as Las Casas gives us clearly to understand, from among 
the family papers of the discoverer confided to his care, 
the real author of this singular production can only have been 
one of the persons whose papers Las Casas had received — 
that is to say, either Columbus himself, his brother, or one 
of his sons, or one of those persons who had had possession 
of these documents, and who alone were in a position to 
introduce among them apocryphal pieces — namely, Las 
Casas himself, Mar/a de Toledo, or her son, Don Lufs 
Coldn. We shall proceed to examine the various hypotheses 
raised by these conclusions. 

Might it have been among the papers coming directly 
from Columbus himself that these letters of Toscanelli were 
found ? Had it been so, it would seem that the Latin 
texts should also have accompanied them, and not merely 
a Spanish translation ; for it stands to reason that the trans- 
lator of these letters was also the possessor of the original 
documents, whose existence has been supposed ; besides, 
had Columbus ever really been in correspondence with 
Toscanelli, where should he have placed documents so 
invaluable to him except among his family papers? But, 
on the other hand, if the translation in question came from 
Columbus, Las Casas, who generally quotes his authorities, 
particularly when he is dealing with the writings of Columbus 


and his son, 1M would have said so ; it may even be thought 
he would have hastened to cite the name of Columbus in 
this connection, both his interest and his duty as an historian 
demanding from him no less. The silence maintained on 
this point by Las Casas is sufficient reason for believing 
it was not through the papers of Columbus that he acquired 
his knowledge of these famous letters. 

At the first blush, however, it would appear he who was 
to profit by it must be the author of the deceit, and that, 
consequently, it was Columbus who imagined this corre- 
spondence: but here we are faced by a very formidable 
obstacle, for Columbus never did profit by it, the corre- 
spondence never having been produced until fifty years 
after his death, and no line or trace having been discovered 
in any of his writings or deeds to show that he had 
even known of the existence of Toscanelli. We should 
therefore be supposing Columbus fabricated the letter to 
Martins, and the correspondence which followed on it, in 
order to make no use of it whatever. This is a self-evident 

Can we see a proof, or merely a presumption, of 
Columbus' participation in the concoction of the most 
important of these letters in the fact that he appears to 
have made a copy of it on the fly-leaf of a book belonging 

"* Thus he says he textually copied from the writing! of Ferdinand 
Columbus his chapter v, which corresponds with chapter vi of the 
Historic, and he declares he borrowed, not from Ferdinand, but from 
Columbus himself, all that he relates in chapter xiii, which is chapter 
ix. of the Historic. For the first assertion, see the summary of chapter 
v, vol. L, p. 55, and the end of the chapter, p. 57. For the second, see 
p. 97, where he says he copies the very words of Columbus, and p. lot, 
where he repeats the same thing. 


to him ? But this fact itself is far from being established. 1 " 
The only proof brought forward in its support is that 

la Did Columbus copy the Letter to Martins i — It must be re- 
marked here that most critics, if not all, recognise Columbus' handwriting 
in this transcription of the letter to Martins. Mr Harrisse was the first 
to express this opinion (Fernand Colvmb, p. 89), which he repeats in his 
Discovery (p. 380). The learned and very amiable perpetual Secretary of 
the Academy of History of Madrid, Sefior Cesareo Fernandez Duro, 
whom I consulted on this point, and Sefior Asensio, whose opinion he 
was good enough to ask on my behalf, both share this view. It is the 
same with MM. Uzielli and Cesare de Lollis (Raccolta Colombians: 
Autograft di Colombo, preface, p. xiii.). The last, who has made a very 
careful study of the question, recognises two types in Columbus' hand- 
writing : one, which he designates by the letter a, is more rapid and dis- 
jointed than the other ; the second, marked by the letter b, is more 
regular and rounded. Some of the notes in the Imago Mundi and the 
Toscanelli letter in the volume of Pius II would seem to belong to the 
first type, whereas the title of the letter would appear to belong to the 
second type (loc. a'/., p. xvi.). This theory is ingenious, but ingenious 
only ; for an expert in handwriting could easily draft a report arriving at 
an exactly opposite conclusion, based on the very signs which lead M. 
de Lollis to think he recognises the two types of Columbus' handwriting. 

It is difficult to believe that the line which serves as the heading to 
the letter ; Cofia misa Christofaro Colonbo per Paulum fixicum cum una 
carta navigacionis, can be From the same hand that wrote the letter. 
Without mentioning the form and regularity of the characters, which 
may be due to the care one is accustomed usually to take in tracing the 
title of a document, it is necessary to observe that we find therein a word 
spelled differently from what it is in the body of the letter. The author of 
the title writes fixicum, whereas a line lower the copyist of the letter 
writes phhkus; he also writes Chrislo/Aro ColoNbo. Finally, as the 
present librarian of the Colombina, Don Simon de la Rosa y Lopez, 
pointed out to me, the ink of the headline is not tie same as that used to 
write the letter, and the copyist of the letter has begun his work so close 
to [he top of the page that scarcely room enough was left for inserting 
the title. We cannot therefore doubt this line was added afterwards 
and by a different hand to the one that copied the letter. Sefior Simon 
de la Rosa y Ldpez thinks this was the hand of Ferdinand Columbus. 
It is remarkable that Bartholomew Columbus in a note on the 


resemblance of handwriting which is notoriously so decepti 
that very little reliance can ever be placed upon it, and whii 
when unsupported by other evidence, can never be tak 
as convincing proof. The fact that the work of Pius 
on the fly-leaf of which the document is transcribed, belong! 
to Columbus proves absolutely nothing, inasmuch as this 
transcription was only discovered there in our own day. 

If the letter be false, and if it be desired to implicate 
Columbus in the forgery by the fact that the sole tran- 
scription we have of the document is in a writing resembling 
his, it remains to be explained why he never made use of 
it ; why he never mentioned it ; why he so carefully 

Colombina volume of Pius II, admittedly in his handwriting, employs 
the form Juricum, just as it is in the title of the letter (see note 860 
Pius II, in the volume Autograft di Colombo of the Ratcolta). It may 
also be asked if Ferdinand Columbus, who was a scholar, could have 
written such a title. As regards the body of the letter, Senor de la 
Rosa y Ldpez, who at first thought he recognised in it the writing of 
Bartholomew {Bibltodfca Colombina catdlogo. . . . Seville, 1892, vol. I., 
1888, p. 52), corrects himself later on {ibid., vol. II., p. xii., note), and 
was good enough to write to tell me he persisted in his opinion that 
Columbus is indeed the author of the copy in question. It is none the 
less true, by the admission of the learned librarian himself, that a con- 
siderable portion of the notes in the book are in Bartholomew's hand 
(loc. tit., vol. II., p. xxvii.), and that there is a great resemblance between 
the writing of the two brothers (loc. tit., vol. I., p. 52, note, and vol. II., 
p. xxuc), which shows at least the possibility of committing an error in 
apportioning the parts written by each of them. 

Without wishing to enter into the discussion of this question, which 
would carry us too far, and which, moreover, in our humble opinion, 
would have no definite result, we give at the end of this work several 
facsimiles which will permit the curious to indulge in a closer study of 
this small problem. These facsimiles are enlarged reproductions first of 
the famous letter, and then of the handwriting of Columbus and of his 
brother Bartholomew. 


; afterwards, 

concealed it that throughout his life, and 
its existence was not even suspected. 

If, on the other hand, it be urged that the transcription 
attributed to Columbus is a proof of the authenticity of the 
letter, it is still necessary to explain why he hid the existence 
of a document so important and so flattering to himself, 
not only at the time it would have been most useful in 
conquering the opposition made to his project, but through- 
out the whole course of his life If it be supposed he kept 
silence on this matter because he did not wish the certainty 
he had of discovering the Indies to become known, outside 
the fact that this supposition does not reflect to his credit, 
it does not explain all the contradictions and improbabilities 
raised by the admission that it was really Toscanelli who 
addressed this letter to Martins : viz., searching for the route 
to the Indies in 1474, whereas that question was first mooted 
in the reign of King Joao II, who only came to the throne 
in 1481, the year before Toscanelli died; the adoption by 
a mathematician like Toscanelli of the cos mo graphical 
system of Marinus of Tyre, which Ptolemy had exploded ; 
the reference to the spice trade of the East at a time the 
Portuguese took no interest in that trade ; the absolute 
ignorance of all Portuguese authors of the time as to the 
existence even of Toscanelli, not to mention the undertaking 
he is supposed to have encouraged ; the silence maintained 
by all the Italian authors, the contemporaries and friends 
of Toscanelli, as to the great design attributed to him ; 
the impossibility of finding any authentic trace of the 
existence of the person who is said to have acted as inter- 
mediary between Toscanelli and King Alfonso, etc., etc. 

To resume : we may say that the only indication that 


is supposed to show Columbus knew of the existence of 
the letter to Martins is unconfirmed by any other; and 
many reasons can be found for proving that indication 
inconclusive. Let it be added that if Columbus really 
copied with his own hand this letter, it is no proof that 
the letter was genuine ; one could only conclude from this 
fact that he knew of the fraud- — if it be shown that fraud 
there was. 

V.— It was not Ferdinand Columbus. — Was the 
contriver of the deceit Ferdinand Columbus, as we might 
be tempted to think ? 1&9 In that case Las Casas would have 
lifted the letters in question from the manuscripts of the 
son of Columbus ; but he would then have mentioned his 
authority just as he does at other times when he borrows 
something from the writings of Ferdinand. One cannot, 
indeed, see why he should have hidden this important 
feature, which would give so great an authority to the 
remarkable fact he puts forward, and which had hitherto 
remained absolutely unknown. Another reason, which 
strengthens the belief it was not from Ferdinand Columbus 
that Las Casas knew of Toscanelli's letters, is that the Italian 
version the Historic gives of these letters seems to have been 

158 Several reasons may suggest this supposition. These letters were 
firs! published in the Historic, a work attributed to Ferdinand Columbus, 
and Las Casas possessed some of his writings relating to his father; 
then again Ferdinand Columbus was the only member of his family able 
properly to translate these documents ; and, finally, it is on a volume 
forming part of his library that subsequently was found a copy of the 
Latin text of the letter to Martins. These reasons are specious : they 
wither away before the studied silence Las Casas evidently keeps on this 


translated from the Spanish text of Las Casas. The writings 
which Ferdinand Columbus had left on his father, writings 
certainly known to the compilers of the Historie, did not 
therefore contain the original texts of these letters, otherwise 
the Italian translator would not have rendered them from 
the Spanish. Should it be contended that, notwithstanding 
the fact Las Casas does not state the Spanish trans- 
lation of the letter he gives comes from Ferdinand Columbus, 
he may nevertheless have borrowed it from him, which 
would account for the similarity of the Spanish and Italian 
versions, the reply would be that Las Casas' Spanish text 
of the letter contains unmistakable Italimisms, and conse- 
quently cannot come from Ferdinand, who was at once a 
ripe scholar and a Spaniard born and educated in Spain. 
This argument is conclusive : it shuts the door to all 
attempts to connect this son of Columbus with the forgery. 
We may furthermore add that the so-called second 
letter of Toscanelli to Colurrfbus, which follows the first 
letter both in Las Casas and the Historie, is such a com- 
position (obviously a draft of the first letter) that a man of 
literary culture and taste like Ferdinand Columbus would 
not have inserted in his writings. 

VI. — The Forger is probably Bartholomew 
Columbus. — Can these famous letters have come from 
Bartholomew Columbus? It is at once possible and prob- 
able. Bartholomew was very devoted to his brother, 
and, judging by certain remarks of Gallo and Las Casas, 
it would seem he had received a better education than 
his senior. Like Christopher, he left behind a considerable 
number of letters and papers which no longer exist, but 


which were well known to Las Casas, for he admits he 
had many of them written in Bartholomew's own hand. 169 
Several volumes in the Colombina are also annotated by 
him. Bartholomew was therefore in a position to write 
the letter to Martins and those to Columbus, and several 
circumstances may be adduced which afford great weight 
to the opinion that the fraud was indeed committed by 

First let us state that some of the notes found on the 
copy of Pius II in the Colombina are undoubtedly in the 
handwriting of Bartholomew. This fact is attested by 
the best authority on the autography of Columbus and 
his family, Don Sfmon de La Rosa y Lopez. 180 The same 
applies to at least some of the notes which cover the 
margin of several leaves of Cardinal d'Ailly's treatise, the 
Iviago Mundi, a book Columbus, according to Las Casas, 
had made his bedside companion. 181 To this indication 
we must add another which, under the circumstances, is 
of great importance ; it is that the handwriting of 
Bartholomew had a striking resemblance to Christopher's. 
Las Casas says so, and the librarian of the Colombina 
has also recognised it. 1Bi From this it results that the 
only reason there is for supposing Columbus knew of the 
letter to Martins — the transcription of the letter attributed 
to him— loses, if not all, at least a great part of its 

1M Histiria, vol. I., pp. 213-214. 

'* Sfmon de la Rosa y Lopez : Catdlogo, vol. II., p. xxvii. 

"■ Las Casas: Histilria, Book I., chapter xi., p. 89. See above: 
note 107. 

™ La Rosa y Lopez i Cal/ilogo, vol. I., p. 52, note 2 ; and vol. II., 
p. xxix., where he says the resemblance of the two writings is such that 
they may be mistaken for one another. 



value, when it is admitted this transcription may have 
been done by Bartholomew just as likely as by his elder 

This conclusion which compromises Bartholomew would 
be insufficient for refusing to bring in a true bill against 
Columbus, did not other considerations come also to his 
rescue. Columbus, as has been shown, never breathed 
a word of ToscanelH or of his letters, a fact as difficult 
to understand supposing they are authentic as in the case 
that he himself had joined in their fabrication. Can we 
also say that Bartholomew never spoke of them ? This 
cannot be answered, for we no longer possess his writings, 
while we have a great number of Christopher's, in which 
it is found he maintains an absolute silence concerning 
the documents attributed to ToscanelH, even in circum- 
stances where he must have spoken of them had he known 
of their existence. This fact, without being absolutely 
conclusive, shows, nevertheless, that if the writing of the 
copy of the letter to Martins is to be taken as proof that 
the writer was also the author of the fraud, this evidence 
teils rather against Bartholomew than against Columbus. 
Yet another fact may be laid to Bartholomew's charge in 
this affair. It is that, according to Las Casas, who had 
in hand many of his manuscripts, he wrote bad Latin, 103 
which is precisely the case with the writer of the letter 
to Martins. 

Does this chain of circumstantial evidence suffice to 
justify a verdict of guilty against Bartholomew as being 

'•' Las Casas: Histaria, vol. I., p. 214. Sefior de la Rosa y Lopez 
confirms this remark by saying that Bartholomew was, like his brother, 
ill versed in Latin construction and syntax {toe. at., vol. H., p. xxvii.). 



the author of the suspected fraud? Evidently not with 
any certainty. In such cases, however, it is not possible 
to bring into court positive and material proofs. All that 
can be done is to establish presumptions, and, when it is 
found that all the circumstances bearing upon a fact point 
to the same conclusion, it must be admitted we find our- 
selves in presence of suspicions which almost possess the 
value of actual proof. 

VII.— Probable Complicity of Las Casas.— To 
the assertion that Bartholomew was probably the author of 
the letters attributed to Toscanelli, it may be objected 
that, were this so, the fact could not have escaped Las 
Casas, who was very well acquainted with the handwriting 
of this brother of Columbus, and had also known him 
personally. We must therefore believe that Las Casas 
was either ignorant of the real source whence came the 
documents he was the first to register, which seems in no 
way to be probable, or that he knew this source and has 
concealed it This last supposition has nothing improbable 
about it. 

Las Casas was indeed a good man ; but he was also a 
passionate man : like all persons who are governed by 
passion he did not always see justly, and it may be he 
brought himself to think he might hide or alter facts on 
behalf of a moral interest he set even above the claims of 
absolute truth. At least there are undoubted traces of 
this obliquity of vision in nearly all he has related of the 
early life of Columbus. To any one who takes the trouble 
to think, it is altogether inadmissible that a man placed 
as he was should have been ignorant of the most trifling 



detail connected with the origin and early life of Columbus. 
He was in possession of the family papers ; he knew or 
had known personally all the members of the family, includ- 
ing the great Columbus himself; he had lived in Hispaniola 
among the companions of the discoverer, and at the moment 
of writing his history he enjoyed the confidence of her who 
then represented the headship of the family, Maria de Toledo, 
the widow of Don Diego I. Yet, nevertheless, he who was 
thus in a position to learn all he wished with regard to the 
Columbus family, he who for years had been gathering 
together materials for a book which he never ceased to 
retouch until 1561 at least, he from whom alone, among all 
the writers of that time, we have a right to expect authentic 
details as to the interesting events of the life of his hero, 
either maintains a stubborn silence thereon, or states 
things absolutely inadmissible, and he goes to a Portuguese 
historian, Barros, who had never seen Columbus, who knew 
nothing about him except at second or even third hand, 
in order to obtain what he tells us of the most important 
phase of Columbus' career in Portugal ! 

While on this subject let us recall once more the 
ambiguous language Las Casas uses when speaking of the 
manner in which the documents attributed to Toscanelli 
were given to him. He has had in his hand a Spanish 
translation of the letter to Martins : he has also had posses- 
sion of the map that accompanied that letter, together with 
other papers in the Admiral's own handwriting. 1 * 4 That is 
all. There is here, undoubtedly, a deliberate reticence. Las 
Casas knew more than he pretended to know. It may be 

1 Loc. cit., vol. I., pp. 92 and 279 ; see above, n 




hiding them so long under the bushel ? To this ob 
it could be replied that the letters themselves may have 
been concocted at a late date, for, from a critical examina- 
tion, it is found they contain ideas belonging solely to 
Columbus, ideas to which he gave expression only after 
his voyages. Moreover, the material production of the 
letters was unnecessary. It sufficed merely to say they 
existed in order to obtain the desired result, and this is 
probably what was done. If things happened as we surmise, 
it explains how Duke Hercules, who, in 1494, was inquiring 
into the relations of Toscanelli with Columbus, may have 
heard from some Italian living in Spain what was being 
said on the subject, and come to believe in the report. 107 

If the letters purporting to be Toscanelli's are really 
false, we may be certain they were concocted after the 
time when he who was to forge them thought of speaking 
of imaginary relations between Columbus and the learned 
Florentine, or perhaps after the death of Columbus, who 
probably was unwilling to subscribe to the trick, and who 
assuredly always acted as though he were ignorant of 
the existence both of Toscanelli and of his letters. Looked 
at from the standpoint that it was Bartholomew who com- 
mitted the forgery and who wrote the transcription on 
the fly-leaf of Pius II's book in the Colombina, the 
fraud may have been perpetrated in the interval between 
Columbus' death in 1506 and Bartholomew's in 1514. 
Nevertheless, it is possible it may date back earlier, but 

1W See above, note 25. The explanation here suggested of the in- 
quiry set on foot by Duke Hercules is very venturesome, and we dare 
not maintain it absolutely. Yet, what other explanation can be given to 
account for this inquiry, if the letter to Martins is apocryphal I 



any case it cannot be before the fourth, voyage of 
Columbus, since, prior to that voyage, he had not fully 
completed his cosmographical system, of which the letter 
to Martins is the expression. For some unexplained 
reason no use was made of these letters which we suspect 
were forged in this manner; it may be Columbus declined 
to associate himself with a fraud of which he disapproved, 
and which, moreover, had become useless in 1498, the very 
earliest date that can be assigned to it ; it may be Bartholo- 
mew did not find occasion to produce the letters, or that 
later Ferdinand Columbus did not choose to do so ; anyway, 
they remained absolutely unknown until the moment they 
were handed over to Las Casas. 

IX. — The Giving of the Documents to Las 
Casas.— What Bartholomew and Ferdinand Columbus 
could or would not do another person actually did. The 
writing of such a work as Las Casas', which is the chief 
storehouse for the history of the discovery and colonisa- 
tion of America, furnished the holders of the apocryphal 
documents with the opportunity and the means for making 
them public, and thus fulfilling the wish of him who had 
forged them. And so it happened ; for before Las Casas 
published them they had been quite unknown. It remains, 
therefore, to find out who it was that communicated them 
to the Bishop of Chiapas? If we recall what has pre- 
viously been said respecting the disposal of the papers 
of Columbus and of those of the other members of his 
family, it may not be difficult to reply to this question. 
The only possible holders of the so-called Toscanelli 
letters, which were remitted or carried to Las Casas, could 


be those who at this period were in a position to ham 
him all the Columbus family papers, namely, Maria de 
Toledo and her son and ward, Don Luis Col6n, sole heir 
to his father Diego I and his uncle Ferdinand, and conse- 
quently then the only possessor of al! the estates, titles, 
and papers of the discoverer's family, as has been already 

X. — MarJa DE TOLEDO. — There is no suggestion here 
that Maria de Toledo had either hand or part in the 
trickery we are seeking to lay bare. Diego's widow was 
a woman of high character, who showed both energy and 
dignity in defending, even against the crown, the rights 
of her husband and of her son ; but it is highly probable 
she did not grant her confidence and her support to Las 
Casas until she was assured he would speak of Columbus 
in a manner that should prove agreeable to her Spanish 

It must not be forgotten that Columbus had found 
great difficulty in getting himself received by the proud 
Castilian nobles; to tell the truth, he never quite fully 
succeeded. They scorned his foreign extraction, his 
obscure birth, his lowly origin; above all, they bitterly 
resented his rapid rise to fortune that even over- topped 
their own. Columbus was so moved by this scorn and 
resentment that he was guilty of the weakness of hiding 
the truth in his efforts to reply to them. The Spanish 
family with which he was allied through the marriage 
of his son, Diego, had the same motive as himself for 
forgetting the past, and for elevating, in the eyes of pos- 
terity, the family whose name had now become linked with 



their own. One may, therefore, well understand that the 
great man's heirs, who had in their keeping the chief sources 
of information as to the early days of the discovery and 
colonisation of America, should have imposed their own 
conditions before opening wide their treasures to him who 
was about to write the history of those times; and thus 
may be explained the remarkable reticences, the deliberate 
obscurities, and that flagrant ignorance on certain points 
of Columbus' history, displayed by a historian to whom 
everything appears to have been told, everything laid 
bare. But if it be possible that Maria de Toledo may 
have inspired or influenced Las Casas in the manner we 
have just indicated, we are very far from admitting that 
this noble woman plotted either with him, or with others, 
the fabrication or publication of apocryphal documents, 
such as the pretended letters of Toscanelli. 

XI. — Don Luis Colon probably gave the Docu- 
ments TO LAS Casas. — We are not restrained by the 
same delicacy with regard to her son, Luis Col6n, the sad 
heir of the discoverer's great name, of his titles and of 
his high honours. Shortly after his mother's death, which 
occurred in Hispaniola in 1549, he returned to Spain, where 
we find him engaged in love affairs, very little to his credit, 
and in long contests with the royal authority, which sought 
more and more to diminish the privileges granted to his 
grandfather. At this period he was the sole owner of his 
family papers, and we find him occupying himself with 
preparing for publication manuscripts that had belonged 
to Columbus or which referred to him. In 1554 he 
obtained authority to print a book written by Columbus 


himself; 168 and we know it was through him that the 
manuscript which served to compose the work produced 
at Venice in 1571, under the name of Ferdinand Columbus, 
reached the Italian publishers. 100 We do not know what 

1M This work, now lost, is mentioned by Columbus in a letter of 
February 1502 (Navarrete, Via%es, etc., vol. II., p. 280). It had been 
written in the form of the Commentaries of Csesar, that is in the third 
person, for Pope Alexander VI. Mr. Harrisse {Christopher Columbus and 
the Bank of St George, p. 49) and Signor de Lollis believe, however, that the 
work in (ujestion was the original text of the Journal of the first voyage 
of Columbus {Scritti di Colombo, vol. II., in the Roccolta Colombians, 
pp. vii.'Viii.). The permission to print it obtained by Luis Colon is dated 
9th March ISS4- Asensio has published it in extenso {Cristtibat Colin ; 
Appendix C to the Introduction, vol. I., pp. cxiv.-vi.). It may be seen in 
the Roccolta Colombians, !oc. cit., and also in Senor Jimenez de la 
Espada's Relaciones gcogrdficas, and in Captain Duro's Colin y la His- 
tdria pistvtna, Madrid, 1885, pp. 129-132. Whatever may have been the 
work in question, it has disappeared since it passed into the hands of 
Lufs Colon. This does not appear 10 have been the only manuscript of 
his grandfather which vanished in the hands of the Discoverer's heir, 
for we learn from a letter of d'Almeida to the King of Portugal, found 
among the Archives of the Torre do Tombo, and communicated to S. 
de Lollis by the Abbe Peragallo, that d'Almeida had obtained, through 
the kind intervention of the Countess de Lemos, permission to have 
copied a manuscript by Christopher Columbus on the line of demarca- 
tion drawn by Pope Alexander VI, dividing the lands and seas belong- 
ing to Portugal and Castile, which manuscript was in the possession of 
the Admiral Don Luis {Scritti, loc. cit,). This work, which Columbus 
must have written for the Catholic Kings, who requested him by a letter 
dated 20th June 1494 to undertake such a task, has also disappeared. 
Finally, another document, the .Memorial del Pleylo, discloses to us that 
several other writings of Columbus had gone into the possession of Don 
Luis, who had withdrawn them from the Chapel of Santa Ana in the 
Convent of Las Cuevas. Among these documents was the testament of 

8 (See de Lollis, Scritti, vol. II., p. xi., note 3). 

1M Spotomo, who supplies the only information we possess on the 
origin of the Historic, says that Lufs Colon came to Genoa in 1568 and 
gave the manuscript of this book to the patrician Baliano de Fornari, 



has become of the work by Columbus which Lufs obtained 
permission to print, and which doubtless he took from 
the Colombina or from the family archives ; but we still 
possess the work, attributed to his uncle Ferdinand, which 
was sent to Italy for publication, and we also know it is 
a composition in which probably Ferdinand took very 
Httle part; one has even good reason to believe it has 
partly been based on Las Casas' own book. Lufs Col6n 
was a man devoid of morality and constantly engaged 
in all sorts of questionable intrigues. To what extent he 
participated in concocting the Historic it is now difficult 
to say, although we do not entirely lack information 
on this point ; at any rate it is probable that he played 
possibly even a considerable part therein ; one thing is. 

who confided it to Marini, by whose care it was published at Venice in 
IS?' {Codice Colombian/}, p. lxiii.). 

We do not forget Mr. Harrisse has shown, by excellent reasons, that 
it is impossible to admit Luis Col6n could have gone to Italy at the 
period stated (Fernand Colomb, pp. 35-38). But, admitting the learned 
Bamabite was mistaken on this point, it does not destroy the fact set 
forth in the dedication of the book, dated 25th April 1571, that the 
manuscript of this work comes from Don Lufs Colon. 

This dedication says neither whence, when, nor how the original 
Spanish manuscript of Ferdinand Columbus passed from the hands of 
Lufs Col6n to those of Fornari, and Spotorno's conjecture that this 
occurred in 1 568 may be incorrect without invalidating the fact itself. 
In truth it was only Don Luis at that period who was in a position to 
take out the manuscripls of his uncle on the life of Columbus from their 
safe keeping in the Convent of San Pablo, and to dispose of them at his 
free will. See on this point the remarks of D'Avezac (Le. li-vre de 
Ferdinand Colomb, Paris, 1873, pp. 1-7), and those of S. de Lollis 
(Scritfi, etc., vol. II., p. xi.). Both these gentlemen take for granted, and 
as being beyond question, that the original manuscript of the /fit/one 
came from the source indicated by Moleto in the dedicatory letter of that 


however, certain ; from that day disappeared far ever the 
memoirs Ferdinand Columbus had really written on his 


Do these particulars justify- the supposition that Las 
Casas obtained the translations of the correspondence 
which is supposed to have passed between Toscanelli and 
Columbus from the tatter's grandson? It might seem so. 
It is true the suggestion is somewhat venturesome, being 
based only on slight indications ; but it is not wanting in 
probability when the circumstances under which the docu- 
ments were produced are considered, and also the logical 
impossibility of attributing their appearance to any other 
member of the Columbus family. If surprise is felt at this 
late production, it may be remarked that it not only 
coincides with the preparation of Las Casas' book, but 
also with quite a recent revival of fresh allusions to the 
ttory of the nameless pilot who is reported to have informed 
bus. This story, which, according to Las Casas, 
freely during the early years following the dis- 
probably forgotten when, in 1535, Oviedo 
r*C*lled ft in a book which was reprinted in 1547, and 
Gomara reproduced it in the editions of 1552, 1553, 
arid 1)54 of hi* Hittory, giving it, moreover, a turn dis- 
tinctly unfavourable to Columbus. 170 It is probable enough 
the** two author* were not the only ones who, at that 
fjtrtoJ, repeated the troublesome story, and we may well see 
hcra a circumstance of such a nature as was likely to 
Incite a member of the Columbus family, so unscrupulous 
a* I I'm l.utt, to dentroy the sting of a rumour so widespread 
Md damaging to the memory of the discoverer of the 
"* See above, note 141. 



New World, by bringing to light a correspondence which 
demonstrated Columbus had no need of any pilot's advice 
in order to find the road to the Indies. This theory for 
explaining the production of the letters attributed to 
Toscanelli is, it must be repeated, purely hypothetical in 
character ; and it is only advanced as a possible explanation 
of an undoubted fact, otherwise unexplainable, that these 
letters, never heard of before, first appeared in a book 
written or revised from 1547 to 1561, wherein it is said 
they reached the author along with other family papers of 
Columbus confided to his care. 

At this period the personal papers of the discoverer 
were, we repeat, deposited in a chapel of the Convent 
of Las Cuevas belonging to Luis Col6n, to which chapel, 
after his mother's death in 1549, he alone had right of 
access. It is possible the so-called Toscanelli letters were 
not with them ; in any case no trace of them was to be 
found when, later on, these papers were handed over to 
the family. But they might have been among the other 
papers of the family which, with the Colombina, also 
belonged to Don Lufs, and which remained in his possession 
even after he had lost his uncle's library. We may therefore 
insist upon the point that, in all probability, Las Casas 
got the documents in question from the man who was sole 
heir at once to the Admiral and his two sons. 

The supposition that Bartholomew Columbus is the 
author of the letters attributed to Toscanelli, and that it 
was Luis Col6n who delivered them to Las Casas, although 
not supported by any direct proof, is the only one in full 
accord with all the known facts of the production of these 
documents, and the only one that explains their forthcoming 


in a plausible manner. If we discard this explanation 
there is none other possible except to fix the fraud on 
Columbus himself or on Las Casas, two hypotheses which 
raise difficulties it is very hard to answer. 

We now proceed to the examination of the second 
item of this suspected correspondence, the map which is 
supposed to have accompanied the letter to Martins, and 
which, after being sent to Columbus with a copy of this 
letter, is pretended to have served him as his chart on 
the voyage which resulted in his great discovery. 





I. — Sources. 

ree examples of this map, said to have existed ; 
copy forwarded to Canon Martins for King Alfonso, the one 
made for Columbus, and the original which the author must 
have kept by him since he was enabled to make copies, not 
one has reached us. Columbus has never spoken of this map, 
and his son, or the compiler of the Historie, only mentions 
it indirectly. Las Casas alone avers that he saw it, that he 
had it in his possession, and describes it. With this single 
exception, all Columbus' contemporaries, all the companions 
of his voyage, all those who had access to his papers or were 
in relation with his family, ignore, as he appears to have 
himself ignored, the existence of this document. We therefore 
only know this famous map by what is said of it in the letters 
Toscanelli is supposed to have sent to Columbus ; by what 
Las Casas, the sole witness who saw it, says of it, and by what 
may be obtained from the Florentine documents, if they are 
Toscanelli's, and if they refer to the map he is reputed to have 
sent to Martins and Columbus, 

For facilitating discussion the map will be here spoken of 
as though admittedly it was Toscanelli's. 



■. the Bibliography at the 

Toscanelli.— The letter to Martins 
with Columbus. 

For the letter to Martins, 
beginning of this work. 

Las Casas. — 1552-1559- — Histiria generdl de las Indias. Las 
Casas, who had before him, when he wrote his book, a 
map which he says is the one mentioned in Toscanelli's 
correspondence, refers to it on several occasions, notably 
in chapter 1. of Book I. (vol. I., pp. 360-361); but also he 
speaks of it in the followiog chapters of the same book : 
xii., p. 92; xxxviii., pp. 278-279; xliii., pp. 316-317; 
and xlv., pp. 327-328. He describes it as a "nautical 
map relating to Cipango " (p. 92); says it is "on parch- 
ment" (p. 360), and that it was "a certain Marco Paulo, 
a physician of Florence," who sent it to Columbus {ibid.), 
a statement he several times repeats (pp. 278-879 ct 
passim). He assures us he has this map in his possession 
{la cual yo lengo en mipoder), " as well as other pieces and 
writings from the hand of Columbus which they have 
placed in my power" {que Irajeron d mi poder), p. 279. 
Unfortunately he does not say who they may be. Mr. 
Harrisse has supposed the map in question to have formed 
part of the library of Ferdinand Columbus, which, after 
his death, was given in charge to the Dominicans of the 
San Pablo Convent at Seville ; and that it was these 
religious, of whose Order Las Casas was himself a member, 
who lent him the papers of Columbus when, in 1544, he 
was consecrated Bishop in their Convent {The Discovery, 
p. 379). But the religious of San Pablo were merely the 
depositaries of the Colombina ; and it is unlikely they 
would have touched their trust without authorisation 
from Maria de Toledo who had confided it to them, or from 



Luis Colon to whom it belonged. We prefer to believe 
it was the latter who communicated to Las Casas this 
document, which, with several others, returned no more 
to the Convent of San Pablo. (See above, chap, vi., 5 3.) 

The Historie, — 1571- — In this book the map is only mentioned 
in the text of Toscanelli's letters. The author remarks 
that these letters — an expression which doubtless included 
the accompanying map — had a great influence on the 
decisions of Columbus ; an assertion which, like the text 
of the letters, is to be found in Las Casas, who does 
indeed give it to be understood that these documents came 
from the Columbus family, but not that the discoverer's 
son had said they had exercised any action whatsoever on 
his father. This assertion Las Casas makes solely on his 
own authority. 

Sketch of a Map, attributed to Toscanelli. — Codici 
Magliabechiano. Manuscript of the Florentine Library, 
class xi., No. rat. 

This document found annexed to a lecture by Toscan- 
elli on the comet of 1456, and which for this reason is 
attributed to him, is an outline or sketch divided into 
longitudes and latitudes, ready prepared to receive the 
tracing of a map. The intervals are of 5 degrees, and of 
these there are 36 along the latitude, giving 180 degrees, 
or one-half of the sphere. Signor Uzielli, who has given 
an account of this discovery in his Memoir on the size 
of the earth according to Toscanelli, mentioned later, 
and who has reproduced the document in facsimile in his 
volume on Toscanelli in the Raccolta Coiombiana, Plate IX., 
does not doubt it was a similar sketch which Toscanelli 
employed to draw the map he sent to Martins. M. D'Avezac 
has expressed some doubt on this point, based on the 


statement that the sketch of the Florentine manuscii 
was prepared for a map of flat projection with equal 
degrees, which does not appear to have been the case 
with the map of 1474. Signor Uzielli thinks this 1474 
map being, by the very terms of the letter to Martins, a 
sea map must have been projected on a parallelogrammatic 
plane. (See on these points, Toscatielii, No. I, 1892, pp. 
7-12). Herr H. Wagner, on different grounds to those given 
by M. D'Avezac, does not think this outline could have 
been used for constructing the 1474 map. In our opinion, 
the map of 1474 not being Toscanelli's, the above-men- 
tioned outline or sketch, and also the list of longitudes 
and latitudes, and the note referred to later on, are in no 
way connected with this map. 

List of Latitudes and Longitudes joined to the above- 
mentioned sketch of a map and equally attributed to 

Signor Uzielli has reproduced this list, pp. 615-623 of 
his Toscanelli in the Raccolta Co/ombiatia, and again in 
part on the upper portion of his reconstruction of Tos- 
canelli's map. It is to be noticed that of all the geo- 
graphical names in this long list there does not appear 
one mentioned in the letter to Martins. 

Note of Toscanelli on the Manuscript of the Comet. — 
This note indicates that the degree equals 67J miles, 
that the mile contains 3000 cubits, the cubit 2 palms, 
the palm 3 ells 7 inches. This information forms the 
basis of Signor Uzielli's work of reconstruction. 

The Globe of Behaim. — It is a generally received opinion 
that the globe of Behaim represents a cos mo graphical 
conception resembling Toscanelli's, so far, at least, as the 
Western Hemisphere is concerned, and we conform to 



custom in entering this globe among the documents 
which may serve to throw some light on the map of 

II. — Attempts at Reconstruction. 
Several attempts have been made to reconstruct this map : 

the principal are : — 

O. Peschel. — Das Ausland, 1867. This is the best known ; 
Winsor has reproduced it in his Narrative and Critical 
History of America, vol. II., p. 103, and in his Christopher 
Columbus, Boston, 1891, p. m. Mr. Fiske has also repro- 
duced it : The Discover); vol. I., p. 356, and likewise Sir C. 
Markham : Journal of C. Columbus. Peschel says he bases 
this reconstruction on the very data of Toscanelli and those 
furnished by the globe of Behaim, by the Ponuguese map 
of 1503, and by Ruysch's map of 1507. A studious examina- 
tion of these documents does not confirm this statement. 
The projection adopted is trapeziform with converging 
degrees. Wagner absolutely rejects it. 

Vivien de Saint-Martin. — 1875. — Histuire de la Geographic, 
Atlas, Plate IX. It is an imitation of Peschel's map. 

MacCown. — Historical Geography of the United States. New 
York, 1889. 

Kretschmkk. — 1892. — Die Entdeckung Amerikas, etc. Tab. VII., 
No. 1. Very handsomely got up ; it is also an imitation of 
Peschel's map. 

Uzielli.— 1893. — Tentativo di ricostrtiziouc delta Carta invtata da 
Paolo Toscanelli a Alfonso V re di Portogalh e a Christoforo 
Colombo, etc. Plate X. of the Toscanelli of the Raccolta. 
A very large sheet. 

A reconstruction on an equidistant plane projection, based 
on the data given in § Sources compared with Fra Mauro's 



planisphere and the globe of Behaim. Signor Uzielli 
forms the spaces of 5 degrees, each degree being equal to 
67 j Florentine miles, or 75I Roman miles, and to 605 
stadia of 185 metres. This gives 111,927 metres to the 
equatorial degree, or 40,293,720 metres as the circum- 
ference of the globe round the Great Circle. 

WaGVEB, H. — 1894. — Nackrickten van der KSnigl. Gesellschaft 
der WissenschafUn tu GSttingen, 1894, No. 3. A very 
meritorious effort which is not, like the others, a sort of 
reproduction of the globe of Behaim. It is a plane pro- 
jection known as squared, the degrees cutting one another 
at right angles. 

MURRAY, J. — 1893. — Scottish Geographical Magazine. A repro- 
duction after the globe of Behaim. 

Pakkkr, W. — 1892. — Goldthwaifs Geographical Magazine, July 
1892. This is a copy of MacCown's. 

MiiidJAifu. — Discoveries 0/ America (Nat. Geo. Mag., Washington, 
April, 1892. Reproduction of PescheL 

MtJHkAV, John. — 1895. — A Summary of the Scientific Results 
obtained at the Scunding, Dredging, and Trawling Stations 
0/ /{.M.S. Challenger. Plate VI, Atlantic Ocean, according 
to Toscanelli, a.D. 1474. The western part is reconstructed 
from Behaitn's globe, the eastern part from charts of the 
Fifteenth Century. After H. Wagner. 

HI. — Various References. 
UfiKl.l.l— 1873. — Delia grandesta delta Terra secondo Paolo 
Touanelli (extract from the BolUHno delta Societa Geo- 
graphica Italtana, vol. IX., 1893). 

Memoir in which Signor Uzielli has studied the sketch or 
plan in the Florentine Library, mentioned above, the con- 

THE MAP 177 

elusion being that Toscanelli's idea of the circumference of 
the earth was nearly exact. 
Wagner, H. — 1894. — Die Rekonstruktion der Toscanelli-Karte 
vom J. 1474 und die Pseudo-Facsimilia def Behaim-Globus 
vom J. 1492. 

A memoir read in July 1893 to the Royal Society of 
Sciences of Gottingen on the Reconstruction of Toscanelli's 
map and the pseudo-facsimile of the globe of Behaim, with 
map. In the Nachrichten von der KdnigL Gesellschaft der 
Wissenschaften zu Gdttingen, 1894, No. 3, pp. 208-312. 



THE question of the Juifc M y & Uy of the 

if credneo witn sorwaramg fogemer ww 

Martins, a copy of which map ft is abo iBrgrd 

to Columbus, does not come before the c 

the same conditions as the letter ifcsett Of the 

havs only a copy and some t ranslaf i nm Oat arc of 

doubtful origin, while we have the positive ifririwc m of 

1a* Casas that he bad in his own hands a map which he 

H*+urc* u* was sent to Columbus by ToscaneOi, ta ge U ic i 

with a copy of the letter to Martins, and he airxs that 

ttti* wh* the map which served as guide to the disowaci 

*4 0m N*w World. 

'two /(Motions are therefore at once posed far the 
M<H*M#f*lUm of the critic What was this map which 
fa tftrittuUtfi to Toscanelli, to which icfae n cc is made in 
lb* l*H*f Ut td&rtin*, and of which Las Casas speaks ; and, 
t+u<iA)/ f wo* this the map which Columbus used as his chart? 
Mm* khtel\n% into this discussion, let it be dearly under- 
**/••{ th«t it h quite distinct from the question of the 
HuftfhfAvJIy i A tb* map. We want simply to find out what 
f ivn Ht*v w** from the data furnished by the letters* whether 


THE MAP 179 

apocryphal or not, which mention it, and from such other 
information as we possess on the subject. Afterwards we 
can enter on the second question, namely, did it serve as 
Columbus' chart? Let us add that the expression "Toscan- 
elfi's map," which will often come from our pen, is only 
used to avoid a periphrase, and that by this expression we 
simply mean the map mentioned in the letters and 
other documents already quoted. 

I. — Cartographic Sources of the Map. — If in 
what precedes we have made ourselves sufficiently clear, 
it follows that the famous map attributed to ToscanelH — 
the map Las Casas had handled and which had accompanied 
the etter to Martins — is, like the letter itself, apocryphal, 
and portrays, not Toscanelli's views on the ocean route, 
if ever he had any on that subject, but those which 
Columbus had himself formed after he had achieved his 

Still, as this map was alleged to be anterior to the 
great voyage of 1492, and as it was produced in order to 
show what Toscanelli and Columbus thought respecting 
the position of the Indies and of the possibility of reaching 
them by the west before they were actually so reached, it 
could neither display the real discoveries made by Columbus, 
no yet the views these discoveries had led him to form. Any 
indication of that nature would have been an anachronism 
that must at once have given away the forgery. The 
compiler of the map has reproduced the geographical ideas 
of Columbus ; but he has been careful to avoid introducing 
any which were notoriously the result of Columbus' dis- 
coveries. This having been stated, we shall now proceed 


in quest of the cartographic sources whence the 

of the map obtained those features which enabled him 

under this form to represent the notions borrowed from 

Marinus of Tyre and others as expressed in the letter 1 


II. — Behaim's Globe. — It has become almost a religi 
belief that the globe of Behaim is just a duplicate of 
so-called Toscanelli map ; some writers have even gone so 
far as to suppose that Behaim, owing to the post he filled 
in Portugal, actually was in possession of the said map. 
It is evident this map — in so far as it is known to u; 
and the globe of Behaim represented the ideas which 
cosmographers of the close of the fifteenth century had 
formed respecting the smallness of the maritime space 
separating the two extremities of the ancient world, 
on the position of the isles and countries that 
found at the remoter part of that space. Geographical con- 
ceptions, as indeed any others, do not spring into existence 
ready made ; they originate from some more or less 
ascertained facts, and develop in a given direction uni 
fresh observations or reasoning impart to them anol 
tendency ; but in nearly every case it is possible to t: 
them to their fountain-head and to recognise those whii 
bear a family likeness. 

Behaim's globe and the so-called Toscanelli map are 
cartographical documents closely related, inasmuch as they 
are the expression of the same conception and cosnn 
graphical ideas; but if the question be to determine 

1,1 Ruge — BiograpMe des Christoph Columbus, Dresden, 

■ the 
e so 
us — 
i the 

to be 



priority of one document over the other, we would, contrary 
to the general view, assert that the work of the Nuremberg 
cosmographer contributed towards the production of the 
letter to Martins and to its complementary map instead of 
these two documents having been utilised by Behaim. 
This assertion necessarily follows from the fact we believe 
we have proved, that the letter is antedated and was really 
drafted together with the map after the discoveries of 
Columbus, whose ideas they merely express. Behaim, 
whose globe dates from 1492, cannot therefore have known 
of these documents, as they were not yet fabricated. On 
the other hand, Columbus and his brother Bartholomew must 
certainly have known of Behaim's works, for Behaim dwelt 
in Portugal at the same time as them, took an interest in 
the same occupations, was like Columbus in personal re- 
lations with the king, and, if we are to believe Herrera, 
was his personal friend. Under such circumstances it is 
almost certain Columbus must have been acquainted with 
the cosmographical ideas of Behaim. That certain simi- 
larities exist between this cosmographer's globe and some 
of the geographical notions of the letter is undoubted ; 
Peschel, Ruge, and Wagner have all three signalled this 
fact. Wagner has even made the curious observation that 
they are more noticeable on the globe itself than on any of 
its reproductions, and he does not hesitate to say these re- 
semblances cannot be the effect of chance. All these autho- 
rities naturally suppose that Behaim had obtained knowledge 
either of the famous map or of the letter which accom- 
panied it, for they are believers in the authenticity of these 
documents. But the problem wears a different aspect 
to-day when excellent reasons exist for alleging that these 

I S3 


documents are apocryphal. If the map of the pseudo- 
Toscanelli and the globe of Behaim are not different 
expressions of the same conception, if one of these docu- 
ments contains information directly borrowed from the 
other, as Peschel, Ruge, and Wagner think, the borrower 
cannot have been Behaim ; it was the author of the 
forgeries. But, after all, it is idle dwelling on these various 
suppositions. Whether it was Behaim who was inspired by 
the letter to Martins, as those think who consider this 
letter to be authentic, or whether it was Columbus who 
borrowed some ideas from Behaim, the globe and the 
letter possess in common only bearings of a very genera] 
kind, and these are peculiar neither to one nor the otl 
of these documents. 

The kingdom of Mangi and that of Cathayo, as well as 
Cipangu and Antilia, figure indeed on the globe ; but 
Quinsay and Zaiton, on which the letter to Martins lays 
stress, do not appear. The one important item common 
to both documents is the reduction to 130 degrees of the 
maritime space stretching from the West away to Asia. 
But the idea of thus reducing this space was special neither 
to the author of the letter nor the constructor of the globe ; 
it came, as we have shown, from antiquity, from Marinus 
of Tyre ; and Ptolemy, through whom it was known, had 
been printed six or seven times before the construction 
of the globe. Cardinal d'Ailly had also mentioned it. 
Therefore, the famous globe of Nuremberg contains very 
little information which the author of the letter could not 
have found elsewhere, and it leaves out two of the most 
important indications "of the letter. 171 

"* The Globe of Behaim. — It is to be regretted that this precious and 


THE MAP 183 

III. — THE Map OF Fka MAURO. — These two character- 
istic indications, Quinsay and Zaiton, are to be found on 

curious witness to the state of geographical knowledge at the dawn of 
the discovery of America was not reproduced with perfect exactness at 
a time when its condition would still have permitted such a work to be 
performed. A so-called facsimile reproduction is preserved in the 
Biblioth&que Nationale at Paris, and several copies are in existence ; 
but there are good reasons for doubting that these copies and even the 
Paris facsimile are absolutely accurate reproductions of the Nuremburg 

Having been commissioned, in 1892, to get a reproduction of the 
Paris copy of this globe made for the National Museum of the United 
States, I had to make a study of all existing copies and reproductions. 
I append here a full list of these interesting documents with a few brief 
observations :— 

1492. Behaim. — The original globe belonging to the Behatm family 
at Nuremburg. This globe has a diameter of 530 millimetres, is con- 
structed of papier-mache, covered with a coat of plaster, which again is 
covered with vellum on which are depicted the coasts and legends in 
ink, colour, and gold. It was repaired in 1823 ; it was again in a dilapi- 
dated condition in 1853. When Wagner saw it in 1892 several of the 
legends were no longer decipherable. It is mounted on an iron stand, 
with a movable meridian and a brass horizon which have been sub- 
sequent y added. It is not graduated. A single meridian, the equator, 
the Arctic circle, the two tropics, and the ecliptic are the only circles 

1730. Doppelmayr : Nuremberg. — A reduced plan engraved in 
copperplate for the Historische Nachricht von den Niirnbergischen 
Mathcmatkis und Kunsthrnj Nuremberg, 1730, folio. The selection 
of the meridian of the Canaries as Zero and the numbering of the 
equator are the work of Doppelmayr. The legends are placed around 
the map, some being omitted. 

1778. Murr. — A full-size plan of the original, containing the Western 
Hemisphere given by Christ. Theoph. von Murr in his Diplomatic 
History of Martin Behaim, published in German at Nuremberg in 1778 
and at Gotha in 1801. A French translation was published at Paris in 
1787 and at Strasbourg. Another edition was issued at Paris in 1S02. 


another cartographical document of the same period : the 
famous planisphere of Fra Masiro of 1459, which cannot 

The legends are given both in French and German in the French 
translation. 1801. Murr.— A copy of the last, reduced to half-size, given 
by the publisher of Amoretti's Pigafetta, Paris, 1801, with a reproduction 
of Muff's work in the appendix. 

1842. Chillany. — A plan of the Western Hemisphere drawn 
Heidedoff for Ghillany's Memoir on the Globes of Behaim and t 
Schoner, published in German at Nuremberg, 1843. 

1847. Miiller, J.— The globe in the Paris National Library, 
so-called facsimile reproduction of the original constructed by the ord 
of Jomard, the keeper of the Map Department of the National Lihrary in 
Paris, and executed by a very skilful artist named Jean Miiller. A 
report published in the Bulletin de la SocUte" de Gtograpkie de Paris for 
March 1876 vouches for the correctness of this reproduction. It offers, 
nevertheless, sufficiently considerable variations from the copy published 
by Ghillany in 1853, which also comes from Muller. Several of the 
inscriptions are already difficult of deciphering. The positions in the 
Western Hemisphere appear to be more to the east than in the original 

1853. Ghillany : Nuremberg.— A copy in two hemispheres of the 
facsimile drawn by Jean Miiller for the Paris National Library, and 
published by Ghillany in his Gesehichte des Sccfahrers Pilfer Martin 
Behaim, Ghillany has copied from the globe itself all the legends and 
inscriptions still readable, and has transferred them to Muller's drawing. 
The two plates are printed in colours; this work is the most beautiful 
and best known of the reproductions of the globe. Wagner, who has 
compared it with the original, says all the positions are too much to the 
east. 1 have discovered numerous differences between this reproduction 
and the globe in the National Library at Paris. 

1854. Jomard: Paris. — A copy of a map representing the globe, in 
the possession of the Behaim family, and published by Jomard in his 
Monuments de la Geographic, 1 sheets. I have ascertained it varies 
considerably from the globe in the Paris National Library. The legends 
are fewer and briefer. 

1857. Lelewel: Brussels.— A reduced reproduction of Doppelmayr's 
with modifications drawn from other reproductions, notably Mur^s. It 
s Plate X. of his Atlas in his Geographic du Moyen Age. 

have been unknown to the cosmographers and navigators 
of Portugal, and consequently to Columbus, since it had 

1874. V. de Sai nt- Martin ; Paris. — A reduced reproduction ol 
Jomard's. In the Atlas of Saint- Martin's Hisloire de la G/ographie. 

1879. H. Kiepert : Berlin.— A reproduction made for educational 
purposes, not placed on the market (Wagner). It is provided with 
meridians and parallels. 

1879. Mayer.— HUJsmitUl der Sckiffakrlskunde. . . . Vienna, 8vo. 
A reproduction after Doppelmayr. 

(881. Ruge. — An excellent and handsome reduction after Miiller's 
copy, drawn by Opitz, and published by Ruge in his Geschichte des 
Zeitaller der Endeckungen, Berlin, 1881. 

1889. NordensJciold : London.— A reduced reproduction of Doppel- 
mayr's. No. 40 of Nordenski old's Facsimile Alias. 

1890. Gunther.— A reduction of Ruge's, published in Gunther's 
Martin Bettaim, Bamberg, 1890, in tzmo. 

1892. Kretschmer. — A slightly modified reproduction of Ruge's, 
published in Kretschmer's Die Entdeckung Amerikas l Berlin, 1892. 

1891. Fiske. — A reduced reproduction on Mercator's projection. 
Published in his Discovery of America, vol. 1., p. 422, Boston. 

1892. National Museum of the United States, Washington.— A 
reproduction of the globe in the French National Library, executed 
under the supervision of the author of this book at the expense of the 
United States National Museum, for exhibition at the Chicago Exposi- 
tion in honour of the Fourth Centenary of Columbus It is now in the 
National Museum at Washington. This reproduction is absolutely 
identical with the Paris globe both as regards size and design, including 
the iron bracing and brass circles noticeable thereon, and bears the same 
inscriptions. The globe alone, without the designs, but with the 
bracing cost 400 francs. The drawings with their legends, the work of 
a marine painter, M. Gigot de Grandpre', cost 1600 francs. Some of the 
legends being no longer decipherable have been restored from the texts 
given by Ghillany. 

The conditions under which this work was carried out give reason 
to believe it will long endure. Within a very few years it may remain 
the only serviceable specimen of this famous globe, for both the original 
and its replica at Paris are rapidly deteriorating. 

In its general outlines, and also in the large number of geographical 



been completed from documents furnished by the Portuguese, 
and a reproduction had been set up, at great expense, for 
King Alfonso. 

One portion of this map dealing with the East might 
appear to have been made for the purpose of accompany- 
ing the letter to Martins. That, it is true, can be explained 
by the fact that Fra Mauro necessarily drew from the same 
source as the author of the letter, viz., from Marco Polo's 
account ; nevertheless, there are points of resemblance 
between the documents that warrant the belief a direct 
loan was made from the work of the Camaldolese monk. 
On Fra Mauro's map all the north-east of China bears 
the name of Chataio, and indicates the imperial city of 
Chambalech (Yule's Cambaluc). On the coast appears 
Chansay, with a legend to the effect that its circumference 
is 100 miles, and that it has 12,000 bridges. Lower down, 

notions which its quaint legends have preserved, this sphere is justly 
considered to be an expression of the views held concerning the 
terrestrial globe on the eve of the discovery of America. But this is 
true only in a certain sense. Neither in its general conception nor in a 
number of its details is the globe of Behaim the work of a learned 
cosmographer. It is the expression of a false geographical system, Ihe 
system of Marinus of Tyre, which no scholar could have adopted after 
the very peremptory demonstration of its fundamental errors made by 
Ptolemy. Moreover, Behaim shows us the Cape de Verde Islands, the 
Canaries, and, above all, the Azores at so vastly exaggerated a distance 
from the western shores of the Old World, that one is driven to ask how 
a man who passed for a learned cosmographer, and who pretended to 
have made voyages in the Atlantic, could have so set them down. In 
1493 l ne exact bearings of the Atlantic Islands were perfectly well 
known, particularly by the Portuguese ; yet Behaim, who actually lived 
on Fayal, one of the Azores, places this island at 50 degrees from 
Lisbon 1 From this striking blunder one may imagine the further errors 
in detail that would be discovered were the globe subjected t< 





lurcher errors 
:d to a close 



inland, is the inscription in large characters, Regno Magna, 
followed by the information that this province includes 
12,000 towns. Eastward the coast takes the shape of a 
vast peninsula bearing the name of Regno de Zaiton, and 
on the bay dividing this peninsula from the continuation of 
the Asiatic coast is the legend Magnifico porta de Zaiton ; 
while at the very foot of the bay is marked Zaiton. East 
from the peninsula, but at what does not appear to be a 
great distance from the coast, lies the famous island of 
Cipangu, together with a number of other isles which are 

IV.— The Catalan Map.— Among other maps, which 
the author of the letter and Columbus cannot but have 
known and utilised, must be mentioned the Catalan map 
of 1375, a map belonging to a school much in favour 
throughout the Iberian peninsula. At the N.E. occurs the 
inscription Catayo, and lower down the name of the capital : 
Civitas -de Ouxmbalech magni cams Catayo, as also the 
names of Cansay and Zaiton; to the southward are repre- 
sented numerous isles. Were we to suppose that the 
map of the letter to Martins was a general map of the 
world, or even of a whole hemisphere, it would be necessary 
to add many other documents to those just mentioned ; 
but no grounds exist for making such a supposition. The 
map which accompanied the letter to Martins had no 
other purpose than to illustrate that letter, if we may so 
express ourselves ; that is to say, it was intended to make 
clearer the explanations there given as to the possibility of 
reaching the Indies by sailing to the west. We may there- 
fore set about reconstructing this map without having r 


to any other sources of information than those mentionei 
in the present chapter and in the chapter on the origin 
of the cosmographical notions of Columbus. There may 
have been others used, but these will suffice, especially 
when we can add some explanation or information borrowed 
from the writings of Columbus himself, from members of 
his family, or from his apologist Las Casas. 

V. — The Projection of the Map. — It has been 
asked whether the so-called Toscanelli map was composed 
of equal degrees or converging meridians. M. D'Avezac 
has maintained the latter opinion against Signor Uzielli, 
who, on this point, appears to be in the right. The author 
of the letter to Martins says himself that the map is a 
sea-chart, and Las Casas who has had it under his eyes 
similarly describes it, assuring us furthermore that Colum- 
bus steered his course by this map which he and Pinz6n 
frequently consulted. There can therefore be no doubt as 
to its being a sea-chart, and there is no reason to suppose it 
differed from other sea-charts of the period. 

But it is necessary to make an important observation 
here. In 1474, the date inscribed on the letter to Martins, 
sea-charts — otherwise called Portolani — were constructed 
on the lines of the Mariner's Card, that is to say, they 
pointed out the direction to be followed not by means of 
a scale of latitudes and longitudes, but according to the 
different airs into which the winds were divided. In other 
words, they were not graduated, but were simply provided 
with a scale of distances generally hidden away in a 
corner. The map mentioned in the letter to Martins was 
not a chart of this kind. It was a graduated chart ; the 

passage bearing on the longitudinal and transversal lines 
indicating the distances, both east and west and north 
and south, is altogether conclusive on this point Conse- 
quently one of two things must follow. Either this map 
is the first and the only one it occurred to any one to 
construct on this method at the period indicated by the 
date, 1474, or it was constructed at a later date, when the 
use of the square projection, with lines cutting one another 
at right angles, had been adopted in the making of sea- 
charts. There is no need to hesitate in choosing between 
these alternatives. Just as the author of the letter to 
Martins unwittingly betrayed the forgery he committed, by 
mentioning therein facts that could not have been known 
in 1474, so has he imprudently allowed it to be seen that 
his map could not date from that period by attributing to 
it a characteristic which is only to be found in more recent 
maps. With Uzielli and Hermann Wagner we suppose 
the map made to accompany the letter to Martins was 
on a plane projection, graduated, whose meridians and 
parallels intersected at right angles ; but we do not 
believe that such a map could have been thus designed 
at the date attributed to this document. 

VI.— The Division into Spaces.— According to the 
letter to Martins, the map which accompanied this letter 
only represented that portion of the globe comprised be- 
tween the western and eastern shores of the Old World. 
From Lisbon to Quinsay, at the two opposing extremities 
of this expanse, were reckoned 26 spaces of 250 miles each, 
which is equivalent, says the letter, to about one-third of 
the circumference of the globe. The entire map, recon- 


structed on these data, would therefore comprise 78 sp; 
(three times 26) of 250 miles each, or a total of 19,5 
miles. But did the author of the letter wish to say I 
this maritime expanse was mathematically equal to one- 
third of the circumference of the globe? We must pre- 
sume not, because to a cartographer, particularly if that 
cartographer were so eminent a geometrician as Toscanelli, 
each of these spaces must correspond with a determined 
number of degrees whose sum should be the 360 degrees 
of the circumference of the globe. Now 78 spaces cannot 
be multiplied by any figure that will exactly give this 

We are therefore entitled to believe that the sphere of 
this cartographer comprised a number of spaces, more or 
less than 78, whose multiplication by the number of 
degrees contained within each should give a total of 360 
degrees. The number 72 when multiplied by 5 gives 
exactly this result Ximenes had suggested the probability 
of this being the division made by Toscanelli ; but this 
suggestion, which nothing then warranted, and which Hum- 
boldt considered arbitrary, m has not been accepted. It 
would, however, appear to be justified to-day, for those at 
least who believe this map to be the work of Toscanelli, 
by the already mentioned discovery made in the Florentine 
Library of the outline of a map, also attributed to Toscan- 
elli, forming the sketch of a graphic representation of one 
half of the sphere, divided into 36 spaces each of 5 degrees, 
which, for the whole sphere, gives exactly the 360 degrees 
of the globe's circumference. If this sketch is Toscanelli's 

M Ximenes — Gnomone Ftorcntino, pp. xcii.-x 
vol. I., p. 238, note. 


\men critique, 


I 9 I 

— and, although Herr H. Wagner doubts it, it may well be 
admitted to be his — the Florentine geometrician for an 
entire map only reckoned 72 spaces in place of 78, and it 
is highly probable he employed the same division in con- 
structing the map sent to Martins in the first instance and 
afterwards to Columbus, always provided that the map did 
really come from him. 

But it is not necessary to have recourse to this 
hypothesis in order to show that the spaces on our map 
could only be composed of 5 degrees each. This division 
becomes necessary inasmuch as Marinus of Tyre, whose 
system was adopted by the author of the letter and by 
Columbus, reckoned there were only 135 degrees within 
the unknown space separating the two extremities of the 
Continent, a space cosmographers, and Columbus in par- 
ticular, thought themselves justified in further reducing 
owing to the discoveries made towards the far East subse- 
quently to the time of Marinus of Tyre. Thus Behaim, 
who held the same opinions, gives only 130 degrees to this 
space. It may be said that Martellus (1489-93), Ruysch 
( 1 S°7^. and the author of the globe of Laon (1490), have 
done the same; the last even further reduces this space. 
These are all, it is true, posterior to the date of the letter 
to Martins; but we think we have shown that the date of 
that letter is false, and that neither the letter nor the map 
could have been drafted before the discovery of America. 
It follows from this that, if the 26 spaces the author of 
the letter reckons from Lisbon to Quinsay comprised either 
more or less than 130 degrees, they would no longer 
represent the exact distance these authors, after the system 
they followed, were compelled to reckon between these two 


towns. For example, if each space contained but 4 
degrees Lisbon would only be divided from Quinsay 
by 104 degrees, and would thus not only no longer 
agree with the system of Marinus of Tyre, but would 
also be in disagreement with the very terms of the letter, 
which states that the maritime space between the two 
extremities of the world is about equal to a third 
the sphere. 

This division into spaces has nevertheless appeared un- 
usual, and Kretschmer has ventured the opinion that it i 
a measure arbitrarily selected by Toscanelli, the value 
which he has not given, thus making it illusive. "* Bui 
Herr H. Wagner has shown that in Toscanelli's time many 
maps, prepared simply after the fashion of the Mariner's 
Card, were furnished with a scale subdivided into intervals 
or spaces, the larger consisting of 50 miles and the smaller 
of 10 miles." 6 

The spaces mentioned in the letter to Martins were 
not therefore an arbitrary geographical item, nor yet a 
standard of measurement belonging specially to the Floren- 
tine astronomer ; moreover, the letter speaks of spaces as 
though the meaning were quite understood. It is evident, 
as Wagner remarks, that Toscanelli — or whoever was the 
author of the letter — would have given some explanation 
of the word spatium had he not thought it sufficiently 
clear; if, for instance, it had not signified 50 miles or a 
multiple of 50. Our author's silence on this point proves 
again that what was then known by a mile was every- 
where the same. 


1 Die Entdcckung Amerikas, Berlin, 1892, p. 235. 
5 Die Rekonstruktion der Toscanelli-Kartc, p. zzy. 



VII. — TOSCANELLI'S DEGREE. — Admitting the point 
that the so-called Toscanelli sphere comprised 72 spaces 
of five degrees each, it remains to find out what was the 
distance enclosed in each space, or, in other words, what 
was the measurement of the degree of Toscanelli or of the 
author of the map. Each space is of 250 miles, says the 
letter to Martins, that is to say, the degree consists of 50 
miles. In thus expressing himself the maker of the map 
could only have been thinking of a parallel north of the 
Tropic of Cancer, for it is of the distance between Lisbon and 
Quinsay that he speaks. But this does not give us the size 
of the cartographer's equatorial degree, that is to say, of his 
fundamental measure. This measure has been sought in 
various ways. D'Avezac, moved chiefly by mathematical 
reasons, finds it in Ptolemy's degree of 500 stadia equal to 
62$ miles." Herr S. Ruge is also of this opinion. Other 
standards have been proposed. The one that has attracted 
most attention, and which Stgnor Uzielli has adopted, is 
that of 67§ miles to the degree. This Toscanelli himself is 
thought by some to have indicated ; in fact, on one of 
the folios of the manuscript on the comet, already men- 
tioned 177 , has been found, as we have said, a note in 
Toscanelli's handwriting to the effect that the degree 
i 67JJ miles, that the mile consists of 3000 cubits, the 
cubit of 2 palms, and the palm of 12 ells 7 inches. 

VIII. —The Standard of 6y\ Miles to the 
Degree. — If this note reveals the standard used by 

"* Lts Voyages lie Vespuce et Its mesures ih'n/raires, etc., Paris, 1S58, 
p. 135 ; and Toscanelli, No. I, January 1893, p. 8, co!. 2. 
'" See § Bibliography. 



Toscanelli, or whoever was the author of the map, it givi 
to the degree 67$ miles on the equator and only 50 miles 
on the parallel of Lisbon. Although in truth there is not 
so great a difference in the length of the degrees in these 
two latitudes, we may accept that the cartographer so 
calculated them. Furthermore we necessarily conclude, for 
reasons which will shortly be stated, that the mile he used 
was the ordinary Roman or Italian mile. Then it follows 
that the 50 miles the degree measures on the 40th or 41st 
parallel, the latitude in which Lisbon was then placed, give 
74,000 metres, while the 67JJ equatorial miles give 100,1463 
metres, say a difference of 26,146 metres in each degree. 
This is a great deal. Nevertheless, according to the calcu- 
lations of the learned authors of the basis of the metric 
system," 8 the degree along the equator measures 111,277.5 
metres and along; the 40th parallel 85,357.7, say a differ- 
ence of 25,920 metres, which, with a margin of about 226 
metres, correspond with the figures attributed to Toscanelli. 
We are therefore in a position to say, if the author of 
the map used the 67J} miles standard, and the mile he em- 
ployed was the ordinary Roman or Italian mile, that he 
gives 26,640,000 metres to the circumference of the globe 
along the 40th parallel, and 36,052,799^ metres along the 

This manner of solving the problem is not devoid of 
difficulty. There is no proof that the author of the map 
used the standard of 67$ miles to the degree ; there is 
indeed no other reason for making this supposition than 
the fact that Toscanelli mentions this standard in a note 


178 See Sonnet : Dtciiottnaire des MatkJmatiques t 
Hachette, 189s, p. 361. 

iliqu/es, Paris, 

THE MAP 1 95 

which has no connection either with the letter to Martins 
or with the sketch in which is thought to be seen the 
outline of a map similar to the one it is supposed accom- 
panied the letter to Martins. If the scale 6y'i miles had been 
in vogue at the date of this letter, one could understand 
its being selected, as a scale was required ; but this measure 
was completely unknown to the authors of Toscanelli's day, 
and to most of those who preceded or followed him. Herr 
Wagner declares he has never once met with it through- 
out his cosmographical researches, and that not a single 
modern author, among those who have handled this ques- 
tion, has mentioned it. He even goes so far as to say that 
it is a measure foreign to the science of geography into 
which Signor Uzielli seeks arbitrarily to introduce it." 8 
Although ToscanelH has taken the trouble to explain how 
this measure is made up, and although Signor Uzielli, 180 
Signor D'Albertis, 181 and M. L. Hugucs 182 have all three 
accepted it after long and minute examination, we are of 
opinion that Herr Hermann Wagner is undoubtedly right, and 
that it cannot be taken into consideration. Yet, if Toscanelli 
be indeed the author of this map, how are we to believe, 
when his object was to furnish King Alfonso V with 
information about the route he proposed, which any one 
could understand, that he made use of a measure unknown 
to cos mog raphe rs, a measure Signor Uziclli himself admits 

179 Wagner: loc.cit., pp. 261-262. 

180 La Vila e i Tempi di Paolo da! Poszo Toscanelli, vol. V. of the 
Raccolta Colombiana. 

181 La costrusioni navali t Parte iklla navigation* al tempo di Cristo- 
foro Colombo, in the Raccolta, Part. IV. 

161 L'Opcra scientijica di Cris, Colombo, Turin, 1893. 



was a purely local one in Florence. 18 * To have done so 
would have been as strange as though he had described 

his distances in miles differing from those ordinarily in 
among seamen. 

IX.— The Standard of 66jj Miles to the Degree. 
— Hermann Wagner, who has devoted very deep study to 
these questions, suggests that the standard of the maker 
of the map — for him it is Toscanclli — must have been one 
of 665 miles to the degree. This supposition does not 
raise the same objections as the former. The scale of 66J 
miles to the degree, which is the same as i6g leagues, was 
a recognised measure. Vespuccio approved it, 15 * Enciso, 
Vaz Dourado, and others employed it, as Herr Wagner has 
shown ; ,SB and, when in 1524 it was a question, at Badajoz, 
of determining the situation of the boundary line, one of 
the important questions discussed was whether to replace 
the usual calculations of 15 or 165 leagues to the degree 
by the \j\ leagues standard affected by the Portuguese, 
in order, said the Spanish delegates, to enclose a larger 
extent of territory within the same degree. 18 * Let us 
remark that if at Badajoz — after the quarrels raised by 
the Papal line of demarcation — the Portuguese had an 

183 Loc. cil., p. 461. 

lht Letter of 18th July 1500 ; Bandini, p. 72, 

iU Loc, cit., p. 260. 

1M On this point, see the discussion between Varnhagen and D'Aveiac 
as to the bearing of the league to the degree, and particularly the 
Memoir before cited, pp. 138, 145, and 147. See also: Parecer de los 
astrdnomos y pilotos espaiioles de la Junta de Badajos sabre la demar- 
cation y propiedad dc las is/as del Maluco, in Navarrete : Wages, vol. 
IV., No. XXXVII., pp. 343 et seq. 


: in lengthening the terrestrial degree, it was not so 
in 1474. 

It is therefore possible the author of the letter to 
Martins may have made use of the standard of i6§ leagues 
to the degree. Viewed in this light, Toscanelli's map 
would give to the circumference of the earth a lesser extent 
than follows the application of the 67JJ miles to the degree 
standard: 24,000 Roman or Italian miles, or 35,520,000 
metres instead of 36,052, 799f metres. Similarly the cir- 
cumference along the parallel of Lisbon would be reduced 
to 18,000 miles or 26,640,000 metres: it of course being 
understood that Toscanelli's mile is taken to be the Roman 
or ordinary Italian mile, equal, in round figures, to 1480 
metres ; for if, with Signer UzielH, we admit his mile to 
have been the Florentine, which is reckoned at 1653J 
metres, the circumference in both cases will be considerably 
increased, as may be seen in the annexed table. 187 

X. — The Standard of 62^ Miles to the Degree. — 
This was Ptolemy's standard, which, as has been said 
before (note 83), gave to each degree 500 stadia, of which 
it took 8 to make an Italian mile, thus giving 62^ miles or 
15J leagues to the degree. D'Avezac believed that the 
author of the map had calculated in this manner, and the 
authority Ptolemy then enjoyed gives some weight to this 
opinion. If it be admitted, the globe at the equator would 
measure stadia, or 22,500 miles, say 33,300,000 
metres. But no other reason exists, beyond the one just 
mentioned, for thinking that the author of the map reckoned 
in this manner. For those who think the author was 
<■ Appendix I. ; see also, Wagner, lee. cit. 


Toscanelli this is the standard to accept ; and we venture 
to think it is permissible to say the chief reason why Signor 
Uzielli discards it in favour of the 67$ miles standard is 
that he found it did not square with his theory, namely, 
that Toscanelli knew the true dimensions of the globe. 
This may be true of Toscanelli ; but it is not so with 
regard to the author of the map. 



XI. — The Standard of 56$ Miles to the Degree. 
— This was Alfragan's standard ; Columbus adopted it and 
makes frequent mention of it, as we have shown in notes 
87, 89, and 93. If, as we think we have also demonstrated, 
the letter to Martins merely expresses Columbus' cosmo- 
graphical ideas, then the standard used by the author of 
the map to which this letter is explanatory can only have 
been that of 56^ miles. For, after taking from Columbus 
his fundamental idea as to the small maritime expanse 
separating the two extremities of the Old World — an idea 
Columbus himself had borrowed from Marinus of Tyre as 
he had found it expressed in Ptolemy and in the Imago 
Mundi — we cannot suppose the author of the letter and 
the map would have discarded the very measure of the 
degree by which Columbus explains the second fundamental 
base of his system : the smallness of the globe. We have 
therefore an excellent reason for believing that the degrees 
of each of the spaces on the so-called map of Toscanelli 
severally measured 56JJ miles at the equator, making a 
total of 20,400 miles or 30,192,000 metres, thus giving to 
the globe nearly three millions of metres less than Ptolemy, 
who had himself also considerably diminished it. (Ptolemy 
reckons 33,300,000 against Faye's 40,007,520.) It is well 

THE MAP 199 

to remark here that if the mean parallel along which the 
compiler of the map reckons 50 miles to the degree — which 
parallel we designate as the parallel of Lisbon — was the 
34th, the equatorial degree of the compiler would contain 
just 60 miles, which, in practice, was exactly Columbus' 
method of counting. Let us further add that in the time 
of Columbus the latitude of Lisbon, as well as other points 
along the coast, was far from being exactly determined. 

XII. — Toscanelli's Mile. — Let us now consider the 
reasons which lead to the belief that the mile on the map 
in question was, as stated above, the Roman or ordinary 
Italian mile. The fact alone that the map is a nautical 
one, as the letter states, and that the explanations with 
which it is accompanied are, as the letter also conveys, of 
a nature to be understood at the first glance, is enough to 
justify the conclusion that the author of this letter has 
made use of terms and measures in general use. Had it 
been otherwise he would have explained his terms and 
defined his measures ; he would have stated what it was 
necessary to understand by his spaces and to what standard 
his mile referred. Signor UzielH, himself, acknowledges 
the justness of this observation. " It is evident," he says, 
"that when Toscanelli speaks of miles in his letter of 1474 
he means to refer to the mile in usage among sailors." 188 
Later, in his great work on the Florentine astronomer, 
published by the Colombiana Commission in 1894, he 
further explains and accentuates this opinion by saying; 
" The marine mile, indefinite like the others, was the only 
one Toscanelli could employ when writing to Lisbon on 
lw ToscantfU s No. 1, 1893, p. 10. 


the subject of a sea-voyage." Further on he adds: "Evi- 
dently Toscanelli, in writing to Martins, could not take as 
the unit for the itinerary the mile of 67J to the degree, this 
being an absolutely local Florentine measure — asselutamente 
locale fiorentina — and he must have chosen one of those 
more generally employed at the period as a marine 
measure. 18 * 

Now, the navigator's mile was the Roman or ordinary 
Italian mile, of which it took four to make a league. Every 
one is agreed on this point. The Italians, who were 
always in considerable numbers in the Fortuguese service, 
had spread this system of reckoning since the Thirteenth 
Century, and Columbus knew no other. 160 The equivalent 
of this mile in modern measurement has not been rigorously 
established ; but the margin among the several valuations 
proposed is insignificant. Some give 1481 metres, others 
1477J, and it has even been reduced to 1472.5 metres 
(Littre). Let us, with Herr Wagner, take it, in round figures, 
at 1480 metres. The Roman or ordinary Italian mile of 
1480 metres, 4 of which go to a league, is therefore what 
we shall consider as the mile of the so-called Toscanelli 

Signor UzielH, whose opinion is very weighty in such 
matters, nevertheless considers the mile of the great 
geometrician to have been the Florentine mile, which, 
by his own showing, was a local measure, and, in any 
case, was not the one whereby seamen reckoned their 
distances. We see at once whither this leads us. If the 

" Vila e i Tempi di . . . Tpscanclli, pp. 460-461. 

See the Journal of Columbus, 3rd Augusi 1491, and Navarrete's 

; Viages, vol. I., pp. 3-4. 

THE MAP 201 

author of the map used the Florentine mile, each of his 
degrees was of 1 1 1 ,927 metres, and he gave to the great cir- 
cumference of the earth 40,293,720 metres (Uzielli). That is 
to say, his degree was 795 metres larger than Mr Faye's, and 
thereby he enlarges the circumference of the earth by nearly 
300,000 metres. 101 It is difficult to accept this view, which 
would appear to have been formed under the influence of 
the preconceived idea that Toscanelli had obtained a very 
nearly accurate notion of the real size of the earth. How, 
scientifically, could he have obtained this notion? What 
data had he for that purpose other than what came from 
the ancients? The knowledge of the dimensions of the 
earth is not to be obtained by subjective processes ; it is 
deduced from facts, observations, and actual measurements; 
it is an objective attainment. Let us further remark, and 
it is not without importance in this case, that if the map 
had been constructed on the scale of the Florentine mile 
Columbus would have used a scale different from the one 
of the very map which, according to Las Casas, served 
as his chart, because it is certain Columbus reckoned his 
distances by the ordinary Italian mile of 4 to the league. 
Columbus also maintained that the world was smaller than 
was thought, 1 " 2 whereas Toscanelli would have shown just 
the opposite if he had reckoned his distances by the 
Florentine mile. Finally, Las Casas tells us Toscanelli gave 
to Cipangu "2400 miles circumference, say 600 leagues," 103 

lsl See Signor Uiielli's attempt t< 
n his Toscanelli of the Raccolta. 

the map of Toscanelli 

,m Letter from Jamaica of the 7th July 1503, in Navarrete, Viages, 
p. 300. See above : First Part, note 92. 
IM HistMa, vol. I., p. 360. 


which again refers to the ordinary Italian mile. It s 
these considerations leave no room for doubting that the 
map mentioned by Las Casas as coming from Toscanelli 
was to the scale of the Roman or Italian mile of 1480 
metres, and that, consequently, far from augmenting the 
volume of the earth, the author of this map diminished 
its circumference by several millions of metres. 

XIII.— Toscanelli's Globe. — For the author of the 
letter to Martins, who ignored the existence of a Continent 
placed between the western and eastern extremities of the 
Old World, the distinction between the Atlantic and 
Pacific was unknown. His globe consisted of only two 
divisions, the one terrestrial, the other aqueous, of unequal 
dimensions. The first was twice as broad as the second, 
and, as the western limits were well known, it was on the 
eastern side that Toscanelli prolonged them. In reality 
one reckons — in round figures — from the western shores 
of the Iberian peninsula (8 degrees west of Greenwich) to 
the eastern shores of Chinese Asia {122 degrees east of 
Greenwich) 130 degrees by the direct overland route to 
the East, whereas by the opposite route, which necessitates 
making the circuit of two-thirds of the globe, there must 
consequently be 230 degrees. In the cosmography of the 
pseudo-Toscanclli exactly the reverse proposition is stated. 
From the coasts of Portugal — Lisbon— to those of eastern 
Asia — Quinsay— there are, going westward, 130 degrees (26 
spaces), and consequently 230 degrees (46 spaces) by the 
other way. His Eastern Asia therefore encroaches on the 
Pacific to the extent of about 100 degrees and almost 
readies the western shores of America, so that his Quinsay 

THE MAP 203 

was only 20 degrees west of California, and his Cipangu 
stretched in part over the American Continent itself. 

XIV.— The Geographical Conception represented 

MARINUS OF TYRE. — This geographical arrangement, which 
sisted in widely expanding the solid mass of the globe 
while correspondingly diminishing the liquid portion, forms 
the fundamental characteristic of the cosmography of the 
author of the letter to Martins and of the map which was 
its complement. To this conception the attention of 
Alfonso V is directed ; it is the idea that is supposed to 
have struck Columbus, and it is the one — no matter whence 
it came — in which many will persist in seeing the determin- 
ing cause of the discovery of America, If Columbus, it is 
contended, had not been persuaded that the world was 
smaller than it was supposed to be, and that Asia was 
more easily accessible by the west than by the east, either 
he would never have undertaken the journey, or, had he 
done so, he would never have succeeded in persuading 
any one that his scheme was feasible. The idea that 
Asia was divided from the Iberian peninsula by a not 
very considerable extent of maritime space was, never- 
theless, not a new one. The ancients, as we have already 
shown, m had many times expressed it; but no one had 
sought to represent it cartographically, or, if they did 
so, their efforts have not reached us. Wagner, who has 

I made very exhaustive researches on this point, has not 
found a single cartographical document of a date earlier 
than the so-called Toscanelli map, where the idea repre- 
m See First Part, chap. iii. 


sented by this map is expressed ; and we are not aware t 
any one else has been more fortunate, although several 
documents of this kind exist which are subsequent to 
this date, the best known of which is the celebrated globe 
of Behaim. Whether or not efforts were made to graphi- 
cally represent this ancient conception, certain cosmo- 
graphers had given on this subject information which 
may be expressed in numerical values. Thus we have 
seen that Posidonius gave to the Atlantic, on the parallel 
of Athens, the same breadth as to the habitable world, 
say 70,000 stadia out of the 140,000 which, under his 
system," 16 this parallel contained. Again, later, we have 
seen that Marinus of Tyre, who, like Posidonius, gives 
the globe a circumference of 180,000 stadia, extends the 
length of the habitable world to 225 meridians out of 360, 
so that the interval separating the two extremities of the 
ancient world was reduced to about one-third of the total 
circumference, say 135 degrees. 1 * 8 This view did not, how- 
ever, make headway ; and that of Ptolemy, who returned 
to the system of Posidonius by reducing the inhabited 
world to half the sphere, or 180 degrees, on the great 
circle, gained such authority that no one any longer 
thought of that of Marinus of Tyre. The author of the 
letter to Martins has merely revived this ancient opinion 
which had been justly condemned by Ptolemy and justly 
forgotten. To within about 5 degrees, the 26 spaces this 

™° See above : First Part, chap, iii., section 9 : Origin of the Hypothesis 
as to the possibility of n passage to India by the West, and notes 68 and 74. 
See also, Posidonius in Strata, Book I [., chap, tit., sect. 6. 

lM See above : First Part, chap, iii., sect. 10, and notes yd and 77 ; 
see also, Marinus of Tyre in Ptolemy, Book I., chaps, xi.-xiu. 

THE MAP 205 

author reckons from west of Lisbon correspond exactly 
to the 135 degrees Marinus of Tyre counts for the same 
distance, and it must further be observed that by some 
interpretations of the text Marinus extended the known 
world to the 230th degree east of his first degree, which 
left exactly 130 degrees to the west. 197 

This old opinion was, in the Fifteenth Century, a novelty 
that would be welcomed by those whom many other con- 
siderations predisposed to believe in the possibility of great 
discoveries towards the west. But, although it may have 
been of service to science if it really did contribute to- 
wards determining the calling of Columbus, it was radically 
erroneous ; and far from finding evidence of the far-sighted- 
ness of Toscanelli in the supposition that he re-adopted 
this exploded fallacy, we should rather see conclusive proof 
that a man of his attainments could not have fallen into 
such an error. 

XV.— Toscanelli 's Islands: Antilia.— In its mari- 
time expanse of 130 degrees the map indicates some 
islands ; this is evident from a formal assertion by Las 
Casas to that effect, and from the phrase in the letter 
wherein the author himself speaks of the merchants living 
in the islands, and says he has marked on the map the 
harbours where the navigators may bring-to should bad 
weather or other circumstances require it; but he only 
names two of these islands: Antilia and Cipangu. 

The situation of Antilia is not indicated ; but the 
author of the letter writes to his imaginary correspondent 
that it is known to him. This famous island which 

See above : notes 76 and 77. 


occupies so considerable a place in the Atlantic geography 
of the Middle Ages is, in fact, marked on a certain number 
of the Portolani of the Fifteenth Century, After the best 
known, those of Bianco (1436), of Pareto (1455), and of 
Benincasa (1482), it is situated at a distance from Lisbon 
that may be reckoned from 30 to 35 degrees; on Behaim's 
globe it is placed further to the west, being located some 
50 degrees from Lisbon. tw Peschel, in his reconstruction 
of Toscanelli's map, places Antilia about the 45th degree 
from Lisbon. As we take it for granted that Columbus' 
geography is the same as that of the writer of the letter 
to Martins, and as we know by Las Casas that Columbus 
had noted that the old sea-charts placed Antilia about 
200 leagues west of the Azores, 190 we ought rather to be 
guided by this information, which does not allow us to set 
back this island so far to the westward as do Peschel, 
Kretschmer, and even Wagner. 

One may reckon on an average 10 degrees — 200 leagues 
— from the Azores to the Canaries, and 8 degrees — 160 

'* The different copies we possess of this globe do not all give 
the same position to Antilia. On the reproduction in Jomard's Atlas, 
it is about 60 degrees west of the meridian of Lisbon and sinks 
away to the south, being placed close to the equator, where it occupies 
the position of San Brandan, which disappears altogether. On the 
globe itself it is, according to Wagner, at 10 spaces — 50 degrees— from 
Lisbon, and also at 10 spaces from the eastern coast of Cipangu. Ghillany 
similarly locates it. Peschel and Kretschmer push it 5 degrees towards 
the east. Ruge reckons 10 spaces between Antilia and the Iberian 
coast [ but with him the value of each space was of 4 degrees. As 
regards its parallel all the reproductions, except Jomard's, place it pretty 
nearly in the same latitude, viz., about the height of the upper portion 
of Cipangu, that is to say, close to the Tropic of Cancer. It is so 
situated on the original globe (Wagner). 

'" Las Casas: Histdria, vol. I., p. 99. 

THE MAP 207 

leagues— from the Canaries to the meridian of Lisbon, 
that is 18 degrees, or 360 leagues in alL If Antilia were 
but 10 degrees, or 200 leagues, from the Azores, we 
should have to place it about the 28th meridian from 
Lisbon ; but as Columbus says at more than 200 leagues, 
an expression which can only mean at not much more than 
200 leagues, we are entitled to believe that after the in- 
formation he had gathered Antilia was to be found at 
some degrees beyond the 28th meridian of Lisbon, which 
accords with what we learn from the Portolani. Seeking 
now from these data where Antilia ought to be placed on 
the map of the author of the letter to Martins, we shall 
find it should be in the 8th or 9th of the 26 spaces, be- 
cause, like Columbus, he only reckoned 15 leagues to the 
degree, or 75 leagues for each space of 5 degrees : in the 
8th, if the island were only 200 leagues from the Azores, 
that is to say, at 400 leagues from the Canaries, and at 
560 from Lisbon, a distance which fixes us at the 38th 
meridian of the map ; in the 9th space if it were more 
than 200 leagues from the Azores. 

XVI. — Cipangu. — Cipangu, says the author of the 
letter to Martins, is at 10 spaces (or 50 degrees) beyond 
Antilia. The position of Antilia being, as we have just 
seen, only approximatively ascertainable, it follows that 
that of Cipangu also cannot be located with certainty. 
We refer, of course, to the situation the author of the 
letter and Columbus assign to that island, and not to its 
actual position, which is known to us since we are aware 
that it was Japan. If we put Antilia in the 8th space, 
under the 38th meridian of the author of the map, or at 

cmusTornEU columbus 

00 leagues from Lisbon, Cipangu must be located 
beyond the 18th of the 26 spaces, and it should conse- 
quently be found 750 leagues westward of Antilia. If to 
these 7J0 leagues wc add the zoo leagues separating this 
island from the Azores, then the 200 leagues between «*»««= 
group and the Canaries, and finally the 160 leagues lying 
between the Canaries and Lisbon, we shall find Cipangu, 
according to the author of the letter to Martins, was at 
least 950 leagues from the Azores, 11 50 leagues from the 
Canaries, and 1310 leagues from Lisbon. That is to say, 
il '■■•■' ■ l-i Im- v.u:;ht :ifii:r tin S;th meridian west of Lisbon, 
In the chart scaled 15 leagues to the degree which accom- 
panied this letter, corresponding to the 65th degree on a map 
scaled 20 leagues to the degree,* 00 which, neglecting the 
minutes and seconds, gives us the 75th degree west of 
Greenwich. Let us now see where Columbus thought to 
find Cipangu. According to his son he had told his crew 
they must not expect to find it before making 750 leagues 
— 3000 miles — westward of the Canaries. 201 This was 400 
leagues less than he should have said according to the 
information given in the letter to Martins, But Columbus, 
who had an interest in hiding from his crew the great 
distance they had to go, and who in fact did not reveal 
to them the real distances sailed each day, may well have 
said 750 instead of 1150 leagues. In effect we find that 
neither on the 2nd October, a day when his Diario shows 
they had sailed 746 leagues, nor the 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 
three days when they made an additional 167 leagues, 
thus far outstepping the 750 leagues of which he had 


* 87*15 = 1305 leagues. 65x1:0=1300 leagues. 
1 ffistorie, chap. xxi. 



spoken, does he say one word about Cipangu. It is only 
on the 6th October, at the close of which they had 
covered 953 leagues, that his Diarto mentions Cipangu for 
the first time. It is just a mere reference, but it suffices 
to show that Columbus and also Pinzdn were thinking of 
that island. On 13th October, the morrow of the dis- 
covery of Guanahani, after covering 1 123 leagues, or 4492 
miles, since leaving the Canaries, Columbus thinks he is 
close to Cipangu and devotes himself to searching for it* * 
At this time, according to the information given by the 
letter to Martins, he was, in fact, only 27 leagues from 
that famous island. 

The following days were spent in sailing from island 
to island in the hope of discovering the one for which 
they searched. On the 21st, during his short stay on 
Saometo Island (probably Crooked Island), the Indians 
told Columbus of a large island called Colba or Cuba, and 
gave him such a description of it that he felt sure this 
time he was right : Cuba must be Cipangu ; he will go 
there at once.* 03 On the 23rd he repeats that Cuba is 
Cipangu. On the 24th he sets sail for it, and says that 
the globes and world-maps he has consulted show this 
island to be in this position. 40 * 

We do not know to what globes and world-maps 
Columbus makes allusion. If there then existed globes 
and maps which represented Cipangu at eleven or twelve 
hundred leagues west of the Canaries they have dis- 

*" Columbuf Journal; Markham's 
m Ibid., p. 55. 
m Ibid., p. 57. 



appeared. 805 After all, the matter is of no great im 
ance; but what is important is that Columbus sought 
for Cipangu in the very longitude where, according to the 
information furnished by the letter to Martins, it was to 
be found, viz., after having sailed 1123 leagues westward 
of the Canaries. 

Columbus did not persist in the belief that Cuba was 
Cipangu, but he continued to search for it among the 
Antilles, and finally concluded it must be Hispaniola.* 1 * 

v* Cipangu was only known to the West through Marco Polo, who 
places it 1 500 miles from the coast (Yule, vol. 1 1., p, 235), say 375 leagues, 
which on the basis of 15 leagues to the degree, Columbus' standard, 
carries us 25 degrees eastward from the Asiatic shore, or 105 degrees 
westward of Lisbon, since Columbus only allows 130 degTees to the 
maritime expanse lying to [he west of the Old World. On Fra Mauro's 
map Cipangu is shown nearer to the coast. On the globe of Behabn it is 
only 20 degrees distant (Jomard, llhillany, Ruge, Schrader). We have 
just shown Columbus thought it was still further from the coast. 

m Columbus appears to have changed his opinion about the identity 
of Cuba with Cipangu during the month of November 1492. On the 
28th November he discovered Cuba ; he then expresses the opinion 
that it is an island ten days' journey from the mainland, and thinks 
the ships of the Great Khan come as far as it ; but he speaks no 
more of Cipangu. He has evidently decided Cuba is not Cipangu, 
which he will continue to seek, but always in the same region. For 
more than a month nothing more is heard of Cipangu. On the 
24th December he reverts to the subject by recording in his book 
that an Indian of Hayti gives the name of Civao to Cipangu (Markbain, 
p. 131). On the 26th he repeats this statement On tbe 29th he 
appears to think Civao (one of the provinces of Hayti) is itself an 
island. From this moment the Log-book is silent about Cipangu ; 
but from his son we learn that at the last it was Hayti Columbus 
took for Cipangu {Historic, chap. xx.). Columbus himself confirms 
this in the first lines of his Will drawn up in 1498 ; and from a legend 
on Ruysch's map of 1507 we see that even at so late a period the 
belief existed that Hayti was Cipangu. It should be observed that 
on the map of Bartholomew Columbus, discovered by Wieser, » 


It is therefore established that Columbus thought he had 
found Cipangu in the very region where the letter to 
Martins said it was to be found, and, consequently, it is 
just beyond the 18th space of the map which had accom- 
panied that letter we must locate this famous isle. 

As regards the latitude in which Antiiia and Cipangu 
were situated, the language of the letter lends itself to 
two interpretations. In speaking of the distance separ- 
ating the land of spices from Lisbon, going directly 
to the west, the author gives the impression that he 
places these islands on the parallel of Lisbon, and it is 
in this sense Humboldt has understood his language; but 
in another passage he speaks of the islands from which 
one should set out to make the crossing, a reference 
that can only apply to the Canaries. According to this 
latter view, which is the one adopted by nearly all the 
cartographers who have sought to reconstruct the map 
in question, Antiiia and Cipangu should be placed some- 
where between the 25th and 30th parallels. As for Cipangu 
this is unquestionable ; it is impossible to locate this island 
more to the north : but such is not the case with Antiiia 
which, on all the Portolani whereon it is represented, is placed 

map which joins Asia to South America, and whose first leaf repre- 
sents the maritime expanse between the western extremities of the 
Old World and its eastern boundaries, Cipangu does not appear at 
all, while Espagnola (Hayti) fills the place it should occupy accord- 
ing to the information contained in the letter to Martins. Let it be 
further noted that when Coiumbus stopped at Lisbon, on his return 
from his first voyage, Ruy de Pina wrote that he had come back from 
the discovery of Cipangu. It is therefore well established Columbus 
thought he had found Cipangu at the very spot where the letter to 
Martins, and consequently the map which bad accompanied it, declared 


much more to the northward, corresponding approximately 
to the latitude of Cape St Vincent. Behaim alone places it 
near the Tropic of Cancer. 

XVII.— Other Islands.— Antilia and Cipangu are 

certainly not the only islands that must have figured on 
such a map as we are seeking to reconstruct. The letter 
to Martins does not mention any others, it is true, towards 
the west But Las Casas who has had the map before 
him says that Toscanelli had marked innumerable islands 
around Cipangu. w 

The compiler of the Catalan map has done the same 
thing, adding thereto a legend wherein he states that in 
the sea of the Indies, above Trapobane, there are 7548 
islands, abounding in fine stones and precious metals. The 
globe of Behaim conveys similar information ; while Fra 
Mauro's planisphere also shows a multitude of islands. 
Columbus believed in their existence. He annotates 
the passage wherein Marco Polo speaks of the numerous 
islands which exist in the Indian Sea, as also the 
passage in d'Ailly's Compendium cosnwgniphie, chap. 
ix., 1M where they are again mentioned. On the 14th 
November, being off the northern shores of Cuba, whence 
he perceived a vast number of islets called Cayos, he does 
not hesitate to say they are the innumerable islands the 
world-maps represent at the furthest confines of the East. 
We may therefore put forward that the map of the letter 
to Martins indicated, in the region where it placed 
Cipangu, a great number of other islands. Perhaps also 

"" Histdria, vol. I., pp. 116-117. 

*™ P9SUIU al libra di Marco Polo, note 345, vol. II. of the S<ritti 



it represented the famous island of Saint Brandan which 
then figured on all maps; but we have nothing to prove 
this supposition. 

XVIII. — The Asiatic Coast. — So far we have been 
able to show that the information conveyed by the letter 
to Martins agrees fully with the cosmographical views held 
by Columbus. But with regard to the Asiatic coast this 
agreement is not so clearly apparent Having recognised 
that, according to Columbus himself, Cipangu ought to be 
found after the 18th of the 26 spaces of the map, the Asiatic 
coast ought necessarily to be found 8 spaces further off. 
But as Cipangu was an island of considerable extent — 
Toscanelli gives it a circumference of 600 leagues — it was 
at least 10 degrees in breadth, which pretty nearly corre- 
sponds with the dimensions given to it on the globe of 
Behaim. The western shore of this island would be, in 
this case, six spaces from the Asiatic mainland, that is 
30 degrees, or 450 leagues, if, like Columbus, we calculate 
15 leagues to the degree. But then how comes it that 
when Columbus found himself off the coasts of Cuba and 
Hayti, which successively he took to be Cipangu, he 
thought he was quite near to the mainland? How can 
this belief, so well established by the Log-book of Colum- 
bus, 209 be reconciled with the undoubted fact that the letter 
in the Raccol/a. The edition of the Venetian traveller thus annotated 
—the Latin edition of i486 — mentions only 1378 islands, and this is 
the 6gure Columbus adopts. The texts of Marco Polo published by 
the Socii'U de G/ograpltie de Paris, by Pauthier, and the one Yule 
has translated give 12,700 islands (see Yule, vol. II., p. 417, and note 
6). The passage in d'Ailly^ Compendium cosmegraphie annotated by 
Columbus— note 662— gives also 1378 islands. 

** On the 21st October 1492, less than ten days after the discovery 


to Martins is the faithful expression of his own 
graphical and cosmographical ideas? We have hei 

difficulty, though it may not be impossible to 
it If the letter to Martins was written before 
Columbus' views were definitely fixed as to the distance 
of the isles he had discovered from the Asiatic coast, and 
as to the actual situation of that coast itself, we can well 
understand there may be some divergence between the 
opinions expressed in the Diario of 1492 and those con- 

of Guanahani and before thai of Cuba, Columbus imagines he is 
the dominions of the Great Khan, and says he announced his intentii 
of proceeding to Quinsay to hand that potentate the letter the Cathol 
kings have commissioned him to hear him (Markham, loc. cit., p. 
On the 28th he expresses the opinion that the Asiatic coast is 
days from Cuba. On the 30th he persuades himself that the Indians 
of that island are at war with the subjects of the Great Khan {ibid., 
p. 63), and says he will use every effort to reach Cathay, where that 
prince resides, and which cannot be far distant (ibid., p. 63). The 
1st November he reckons he is 100 leagues from Zailon and Quinsay. 
Next day, however, he takes his bearings and finds he has made 1142 
leagues since leaving the Canaries (.Hid., p. 66). At this time Columbus 
had not even passed the 75th meridian west of Greenwich. On the nth 
December, after the discovery of Hayti, he calculates, and this time 
correctly, that the mainland, which he always thinks is Asia, lies to 
the southward of that island. This mainland, which he was to discoi 
on his third voyage, was the South American Continent, but 
he did not perceive his error. 

We cannot in this note follow the different phases of Columbus' 
thought that he had discovered the extreme Eastern shores of Asia, 
Several times he changed his opinion on the places to which should 
be applied the names of Cipangu and all the others mentioned by 
Marco Polo ; for, in lands inhabited by a primitive people, he failed 
to recognise the rich countries extolled by the Venetian explorer ; but 
he never doubted that he had reached the regions where those countries 
were to be found, and during his four voyages he never ceased 
searching for them. 


ose countries 
ceased from 



tained in the letter which we have shown was written at a 
later period. 

If there be one fact well established to-day, although 
it has been contested even by Mr Harrisse, who might 
well have left this fancy to M. Roselly de Lorgues, it is 
that when Columbus died he had not yet realised the 
true character of his discoveries, and that he never knew 
he had twice landed on a continent which lay between the 
Antilles and Asia. A conclusive proof of this double 
assertion is to be found in the map of Bartholomew 
Columbus, already mentioned, 110 the first leaf of which 
shows the Eastern shore of Asia at a much greater 
distance from Cipangu, represented by Hispaniola (Hayti), 

110 The Map of Bartholomew Columbus, 1 506. —See note 98. It is 
known that just after Columbus died, even possibly in 1506 itself, 
Bartholomew Columbus betook himself to Rome, and there he left 
a description and a map of the coast of Veragua which with his 
brother he had explored during the Jailer's last voyage. These 
documents found their way into the Alexander Strozzi Collection, and 
thence, at a later date, into the Florentine National Library. The 
description by Bartholomew was known, and Mr Harrisse published 
it in his Biblioteea Americana; but the map was lost. But on a 
copy of the letter from Jamaica of the 7th July 1 503, in which 
Columbus gives an account of his fourth voyage and mentions the 
map he had drawn up to accompany his account, a copy also form- 
ing part of the Strozzi Collection, Wieser discovered three pen 
sketches representing all the Equatorial Zone of the Globe, intended 
to illustrate the discoveries of Columbus, and particularly those of 
his fourth voyage. 

The collection wherein this precious document was found and the 
critical examination to which it has been subjected do not permit 
us to doubt it comes from Bartholomew Columbus himself, and that we 
have here the authentic expression of the cosmographical ideas of the 
two brothers, after their latest discoveries. This is the opinion of 
Wieser who has published a facsimile of these sketches accompanied 
by an interesting study ; it is also the opinion of all those who have 



than appears to be warranted by the language used by 
Columbus in his Diario. Wc may therefore maintain the 
conclusion to which our analysis has led us, and leave the 
Asiatic coast of the letter to Martins at 30 degrees from 
Hayti, the Cipangu of Columbus. To the Asiatic coast 
we give the outline it has in the map of Bartholomew 
Columbus, an outline which projects itself less forward 
than on the globe of Behaim, and we insert on it the 
four names mentioned in the letter: Cathay, Mangi, 
Qui'nsay, and Zaiton ; names borrowed from Marco Polo, 
and which also appear in the planisphere of Fra 

XIX.— The Western Coast.— For drawing the other 
extremity of the map we have only very vague informa- 
The letter says it shows "your coasts," an expres- 
which cannot be taken as referring only to Portugal, 
ince it is followed by " the isles whence you should set 

examined the documents. The first of the three sketches represents 
all the maritime expanse lying between the extreme Eastern and 
Western shores of the Old World, and the Asiatic coast is depicted 
as running continuously into the coast of Central and Southern America. 
This maritime expanse, in the midst of which appear tbe Antilles, but 
not Cipangu, whose place is evidently taken by Hispaniola, which 
Columbus, at the last, took to be the Japanese island, measures 
exactly 130 degrees from Cape St. Vincent to the Cattigara of Ptolemy. 
The third sketch bears the legend we have reproduced in note 98, 
indicating that, contrary to Ptolemy's opinion, Columbus thought 
Marinus of Tyre was right in assigning to the Old World a con- 
tinental extension of 225 degrees. 

After examining this map it is difficult to understand how it is 
possible to maintain the opinion that Columbus realised he had 
discovered a New World, which was not the Indies. See on all these 
points the previously mentioned memoir by Wieser. 

THE MAP 217 

forth " evidently a reference to the Canaries. The Spanish 
version adds a reference to Ireland and Guinea as form- 
ing the two ends of the coast included in the map. As 
Columbus was well acquainted with the African coast 
starting from Cape Bogador, we may leave on our map 
the names that are found on the map of Bartholomew 

XX.— Resume; The so-called Toscanelli Map 

the example of several critics we have just attempted a 
summary reconstruction of the map mentioned in the 
letter to Martins, which letter it is supposed to have 
accompanied. We have been guided in this reconstruction 
principally by the very terms of the letter to which the 
map served as complement, and of which, consequently, it 
was the graphic expression. We may therefore take for 
certain that this map did not differ greatly from what we 
have supposed it to have been. Whether Toscanelli was 
its author or not, the preceding critical examination can 
leave no doubt as to the real character and scientific value 
of the document. It was a map by which it was proposed 
to show the possibility, or rather the facility, of the journey 
to the Indies by way of the west The author makes 
this demonstration by graphically rendering the ideas, 
frequently emitted by the ancients, as to the small extent 
of maritime space dividing the two extremities of the 
known world, and those ideas peculiar to Marinus of Tyre 
as to the eastward extension of the Asiatic Continent. 

To these two fundamental features, which give to the 
map its essential character, the author added some geo- 





graphical nomenclature, borrowed from Marco Polo, 
indicated some islands whose existence was then a matter 
of belief, and which figure on several maps of the Fourteenth 
and Fifteenth Centuries. It may be affirmed that this is 
all that was contained in the work attributed to Toscanelli. 

This simple statement suggests the following reflection : 
this famous map, which was supposed to come from an 
intellectual and scientific centre in possession of the fullest 
and latest information on all the geographical and cosmo- 
graphical questions then discussed ; a map stated to be the 
work of one of the most learned men of his day, who was 
particularly careful to be well posted in all these questions, is 
constructed, nevertheless, on facts known to everybody, and 
even long known to everybody : for those which constitute 
its basis date back to far antiquity, and those which arc 
the most recent are lifted bodily from a work that was 
already a hundred and fifty years old. 

Yet a second reflection comes also to the mind : it is 
that any cosmographer, no matter how little learned, could 
easily have prepared such a map; and in Portugal particu- 
larly, where Prince Henry had developed the taste for geo- 
graphical studies, men capable of such a labour were to be 
found in plenty. 

We may well then ask what light such a document could 
throw on the question of the better route to reach the 
Indies — a question, by the way, not yet raised in 1474 — and 
what this map, in which was to be found no new information 
or suggestion for those who occupied themselves with 
cosmography and navigation, could teach seamen, like the 
Portuguese, who knew the Atlantic better than any one, 
and to whom no Portolano of the period was unknown, 

THE MAP 219 

for it was by the help of these Portolani that Prince Henry 
directed his explorations ! 

We thus find ourselves led, by another line of thought, 
to ask once more the question as to the authenticity of all 
this correspondence between Toscanelli and Canon Martins 
in the first instance, and afterwards with Columbus, the 
improbability, at least, of which is demonstrated by so many 
other considerations. To these considerations, which have 
been developed in the preceding pages, a new motive for 
suspicion must now be added : the complete insignificance 
and absolute want of originality of the famous map to 
which has been attributed so large a share in the genesis 
of the ideas which led Columbus to his great discovery. 



WE come now to the second question : Was the map we 

have just described in its broad outlines the one that served 
to guide Columbus on his first voyage? 

I. — A Map existed which Las Casas thought 
WAS TOSCAN ELLl's. — Las Casas is very affirmative on this 
point. He says that he has had in his possession the map 
which accompanied the letter to Martins ; m that Columbus 
was entirely guided by it, and had such faith in the informa- 
tion it conveyed as never to doubt the success of his enter- 
prise.* 1 * The fact that the author of the letter to Martins 

111 After speaking of the consultation between Pinzdn and Columbus 
on the 15th September, Las Casas says: "This map is tlie one Hut 
was sent by Paulo, physician of Florence. It is the very same that 
I have in my possession with other objects belonging to the Admiral 
who discovered these Indies, as also writings from his own hand, 
which were confided to me (y escrituras de su misma mono qui 
trajeron A mi podcr), MisfJria, Rook I., chap, xxxviii., vol. I., pp. 278-279. 

,,! " Columbus had such faith in the letter sent and in the nautkil 
map which the said Paulo, physician, had sent him, that he did not 
doubt he should find those lands that were marked upon it" (Las 
Casas: HistAria, Book I., chap xliii., vol I., p. 316). 

THE MAP 221 

refers to this map proves, moreover, that it was part of 
his plan to produce it, for he would not otherwise have 
spoken of it : one may even add it was necessary in order 
to give weight to what he puts forth. If he mentions it, 
refers to it, and lays stress on the information it contains, 
he does so because it suits him, because it is necessary 
for the object he has in hand. This appears to be clear 
and beyond the possibility of discussion. We may therefore 
take it for certain that a map, attributed to ToscanelU, 
really existed, appears to have accompanied the letter to 
Martins, and came into Las Casas' hands : this does not, 
however, prove that it was Toscanelli's work nor that it 
served Columbus as his road-map. 

II. — Was the so-called Toscanelli Map the 
Road-map of Columbus. — If, therefore, we follow Las 
Casas, there can be no doubt that the map he tells us 
accompanied Toscanelli's letters is also the one Columbus 
used as a road-map. Muftoz, who was well acquainted with 
the then unpublished work of the Bishop of Chiapas, is 
among the first to put forward this fact; 113 Humboldt 
at the beginning was of the same opinion;* 14 but later 
on he corrected himself, and, while admitting Columbus 
had Toscanelli's map on board, thought the great navigator 
did not solely guide his ship by it, because, instead of 
holding to the parallel of Lisbon, he laid his course off the 
island of Gomera. S15 This reason, which Mr Harrisse also 
gives, 218 would prove, on the contrary, it was indeed the map of 
1U His/Ma, Book III., § 4- 
! " Examen critique, vo!. I., p. 233. 

h" 1 Cosmos, vol. II., p. 317. 
"* The Discovery, p. 40!. 


i.ih Lu CtMl *pcaks, the one he attributes to Toscanelli 

i <! Columbus as a road-map; for. while speaking 

i id -fi .lance separating Lisbon from Quinsay in the 

h ,, |,i line, the K-ltcr to Martins recommends another 

UlH ,i ilic one to be taken for crossing the ocean, namely, 

ii ivliich starts from the isles, a phrase that can only 

Hi' .hi ilic Canaries. Columbus, therefore, whatever may 
Ii.ivi- been his motives, did, in fact, comply with the instruc- 
ii.iiii gfvtfl in the letter to Martins in waiting to lay a 

■ .in .<■ westward until he was off the Canaries, 

Kill other reasons exist for doubting that the road-map 

'•I ' o| bus was the one mentioned by Las Casas. Before 

ii' ring them, let us recall that, besides the authors just 

■ j j ^ Jiii il, Hprengel, Navarrete, Washington Irving, Bossi, 

l.inlmii, .uif! Kiske all think Columbus in making his 
ii iv fallowed the instructions he found in the letter 

In Miirrins and in the map which accompanied that letter. 
\n i I- in.'iiHR, Markham, K.C.H., the learned Presidentof the 
lliililnyl SiKricty, calls this letter, "The Sailing Directions of 

| nl Inn" {'1'he Journal of Christopher Columbus, London, 

HI,, I. v II ftstq.). 


|. in Las Casas is a little more definite 

p ■ H» origin of the map than he is with the 

l- ii. i lb' snya clearly, as we have just seen, it was sent 
|i. <'* by 'I uscanelli ; that he, Las Casas, had had it 
Id hi* hands, with other writings of the Admiral, and that 
i Ellumbua nevoi doubted be should find the lands marked 
mi ii lu Imh evidence so positive and precise it would 1 
inn i/iiiiv unhesitatingly to admit that the map we a 


discussing really served Columbus as his road-map, if 
certain reasons did not exist for supposing Las Casas was 
ill-informed, and if, particularly as regards the map, we had 
not, by chance, another source of information which does 
not agree with his: the very Log-book itself of Columbus. 
It is well known that it is only through Las Casas we are 
acquainted with the Log-book of Columbus' first voyage. 
The Bishop of Chiapas made a very extensive and detailed 
analysis of all that it contained from the original manuscript 
itself, which is now unfortunately lost ; in this analysis he 
follows the text date by date, and frequently reproduces 
the very words of Columbus. It is this summary, entirely 
written in Las Casas' hand, which constitutes what is 
known as the Journal or Diary of Columbus, and which 
has been published and translated several times. In 
writing his HistSria general de las lndias Las Casas has 
also made use of the original manuscript of the Diary of 
Columbus, sometimes reproducing numerous passages 
textually, at others contenting himself with analysing 
them. This History of the Indies being now published, 
we possess two accounts of certain incidents which, though 
drawn from the same source and written by the same person, 
are not altogether identical as regards all the details. In 
his HistSria Las Casas records that on the 25th September 
1492 Columbus and Pinz6n consulted the map by which 
they were sailing, and were surprised not to seet he islands 
it marked at the spot where they then were. "This map," 
adds Las Casas, " was the one Paul the physician had sent 
and which I have in my possession." 1117 If now we refer 
to the Diary of Columbus itself, the extracts from which 
"' Las Casas : J-fi±tor:'a, Euok T., chap, xxxviii., vol. 1., p. 278. 


are very much more copious than in the Histdria, and * 
not appear to have been drafted by Las Casas at the same 
period as he wrote his Histdria, we see Columbus mentions, 
on this same day, the 25th September, the map consulted 
that date as though it had been made by him. 218 Thus 
Columbus, who here is speaking himself, and whose 
language is only put in the third person by Las Casas in 
order to shorten the statement, not only does not say the 
map was Toscanelli's — though now, surely if ever, was the 
occasion to mention that fact — but gives it to be under- 
stood that it was he, Columbus, who had designed it! We 
cannot admit here the possibility of an error on the part 
of Columbus. It was in 1552, at the earliest, that is forty- 
six years after the death of the discoverer, and about sixty 
years after the famous consultation of the 25th September 

*™ Here is [he phrase on which this assertion is based : " Una carta . . . 
dende segiin parece tenia pintados el almirante ctertas islas" (Navarrete, 
Col, Viages, vol. I., p. 13). This phrase is somewhat ambiguous ; but 
the meaning we give to it is the one accepted by the most competent 
authorities in such matters. M. de la Roquette has rendered it, "Sur 
laquelle il parait qu'il (1'amiral) avait represente certaines iles." 
(Relations des guatre voyages, etc., vol. II., p. 26). Mr Harrisse says: 
"On which the Admiral seemed to have painted certain islands" (The 
Discovery, p. 401). Navarrete, in the note he has appended in this 
place to the Journal of Columbus, which he was the first to publish, 
has also understood the phrase in this manner: "Esta carta delineada 
per el aimirante" etc. (Col. Viages, vol. I., p. 13, note). Sir C. Mark- 
ham gives a neutral translation: "On which, as it would appear, the 
Admiral had certain islands depicted" (The Journal, etc., p. 28). Senor 
G. de la Rosa, to whom I submitted this text, is nevertheless of opinion it 
should be translated as follows : "A map ... of the Admiral wherein, 
as it would appear, were found depicted certain islands," which may 
be taken to mean that the map merely belonged to the Admiral. But, 
even giving them no more than this restricted sense, these words 
show clearly that the map in question was not Toscanelli's. 

THE MAP 22 s 

1492, that Las Casas affirms the map thus consulted came 
from Toscanelli, while Columbus, who kept his Log-book 
from day to day aboard his ship, employs therein language 
on this very date in September 1492, which, far from 
confirming the statement of Las Casas, gives it to be under- 
stood he was himself the author of the map in question. If, 
with Las Casas, we wish to believe this map really came from 
Toscanelli, we must admit Columbus has concealed the fact ; 
for, under the circumstances mentioned, his silence, on so 
essential a point, can only have been deliberate; and, as 
we cannot see why he should hide a fact of this kind, 
which could not be damaging to him, we are entitled to 
consider the reserve he has here shown on this point as a 
very convincing proof that such was not the case. There are 
still other proofs to the same effect, as we shall shortly see. 

IV.— The Road-map of Columbus denoted Islands 

just said Columbus does not express himself in a manner 
that would lead to the inference he was guided by a map 
which came from Toscanelli. We shall now show this 
map contained information which Columbus looked on as 
certain, and which could not by any possibility have come 
from Toscanelli. 

If we refer again to the Log-book of the great navi- 
gator we shall find that from the 17th September the 
little squadron he commanded thought land was near. 
They had then scarcely passed the most westerly meridian 
of the Azores. On the 18th this belief continues. The 19th 
Columbus, no doubt wishing to know exactly where they 
were, took his bearings and found they were only 400 


leagues from the Canaries. 21 " The 22nd or the 23rd— 
the Diary is not very clear on this point 120 — when they 
had gone some 100 leagues further, Martin Alonso Pinz6n, 
the ablest of Columbus' lieutenants, sent to ask him for 
his map, the same which Las Casas declares was Toscan- 
elli's. It may be supposed Pinzon wished to assure 
himself, by a fresh inspection of this map, that they were 
really in the neighbourhood of some land. On the 25th, 
Columbus and Pinzon confer together about this map, or 
rather about some islands marked thereon. Pinzon asserts 
that the caravels were, at that moment, in the position 
where the map indicated islands, and Columbus expressed 
himself as being of the same opinion. Columbus was so 
sure of it that he tried to explain the islands were prob- 
ably not seen because the currents had swept the caravels 
out of the course, and because the pilots in taking bearings 
had miscalculated, as the squadron could not have made 
all the way they reported. To satisfy himself, he again 
asks Pinzdn to give him the map, which is passed to him 
by means of a cord, when he began to take his bearings 
on it with his pilot and some of the sailors. 221 

Therefore, the map Columbus and Pinzon studied with 
such care from the 19th to the 25th September; the map 
by which evidently they were steering, since they passed 
and repassed it to one another at critical moments ; the 
map Las Casas says came from Toscanelli ; marked the 
situation of certain islands which Columbus, and perhaps 
also Pinzon, thought they should certainly find at 

nB Navarrete: Col. Viagts, pp. 10-11. 
wq Navarrete: Col. Viages, p. 12. 
*" Navarrete: Col. Viages, pp. 13-14. 



the spot where they were indicated. This fact, even in the 
absence of any other reasons, would suffice to raise a 
doubt as to Las Casas' assertion that this map had been 
sent by Toscanelli, first to Martins and afterwards to 

For, in effect, without mentioning the language of 
Columbus, which does not confirm Las Casas' assertion, 
but rather contradicts it, we cannot explain the certainty 
Columbus had as to the existence of islands at the spot 
he and Pinz6n sought for them on the 25th September 
1492, namely, in mid-ocean about 30 latitude and 47 
or 48° longitude, unless he had other information on this 
subject than a map constructed by a Florentine scholar 
who had never left his study. Such a map might well 
indicate some isles in the Atlantic, like Antilia and San 
Brandan, for instance, in whose existence everybody then 
believed ; but it is impossible to see in information of this 
nature a sufficient reason for giving Columbus the certainty 
to which his Diary bears witness, that islands existed 
in the latitudes his flotilla had reached on the above- 
mentioned date. Let us take note that this assurance 
was not shaken in Columbus because he did not find the 
islands in question, for on the 3rd October he enters in 
his Log that he has left them behind him, and did not 
sight them only because he would not lose time look- 
ing for them when his main object was to reach the 
Indies. 313 

The information given by this map concerning these 
islands came therefore from a source Columbus considered 
very sure ; so sure, according to Las Casas, that as we have 
* 3 * Navarrete : Col. Vuiges^ p. 16. 


already shown, he never doubted the ultimate . 
his expedition. Since a learned map constructed by a 
theorist, like Toscanelli, could not give a certainty of this 
character, we are entitled to see here a confirmation of 
the doubt raised by the very language of Columbus 
respecting the origin of this map, and to say that in 
this circumstance lies another reason for believing the 
map consulted by Columbus and Pinz6n on the 25th 
September did not come from Toscanelli. 

Let us complete this demonstration by another most 
significant remark. 

According to the letter to Martins, and, consequently, 
according to the map of Toscanelli, the maritime expanse 
to be crossed to reach the Indies was of 26 spaces or 130 
degrees. Cipangu and the isles by which it was surrounded, 
if we follow Las Casas, were about 8 or 6 spaces, 30 or 
40 degrees, less to the west, say after the iSth space west 
of Lisbon. Columbus, if he were steering by Toscanelli's 
map, could not therefore expect to sight land before having 
sailed this distance. Now we have already seen that as 
early as the 19th September, when the squadron had not 
gone more than 400 leagues westward of the Canaries, 
Columbus expected to find land. On the 25th he was 
very disappointed not to meet with the islands marked 
on his map, and he sets to work to re-check his calcula- 
tions in order to find if he has not made some error in 
them. On the same date, at night, Pinzon, thinking he 
spies land, cries the news to Columbus, who falls on his 
knees to thank God, and all the crew join in singing the 
Gloria in Exeelsis DeoP 3 Columbus therefore thought he 
e : Col. Viagcs, p. 14. 

THE MAP 229 

had attained his end. At that moment his flotilla was 
only 12 or 14 degrees west of the meridian of Flores. It 
was therefore not by ToscanelH's map, nor by any informa- 
tion obtained from that scholar, that Columbus was steer- 
ing, but evidently by a map indicating islands in the 
region attained by the discoverers on the afore-mentioned 
date; a map Columbus may have drawn himself, but only 
from information supplied by others, for he had never 
before been further west than the Azores. 38 * 

V.— The Road-map of Columbus was based on 
Information he had received from a Pilot.— If the 
information afforded by the map, consulted on the 25th 
September, respecting the situation of certain islands in 
*" On this subject yet another observation remains to be made. 
It is that, from the moment he was disappointed in his hope of find- 
ing the islands where he expected to sight them, Columbus appears 
to have hesitated as to the course he should follow, and on several 
occasions altered it. Up to the 20th September he had consistently 
followed the parallel on which he had started, that of Gomera, viz., 
the z8th. On the 21st, thinking he was near the islands he sought, 
he bore to the north, and held on this course for a couple of days. 
On the 24th he resumed a westerly direction. On the 25th, being 
about the 29th or 30th parallel, after realising that the islands marked 
on his map did not exist, and having taken his bearings in order to 
find out why he had not sighted them, towards evening he veered 
again and bore away south-west. On the 26th he again took to the 
west and kept this course for several days. The 6th October Pinz6n 
urges that the course be altered to southward ; Columbus at first re- 
sists, but next day he accepts this advice, and seven days later he 
landed on the island of Guanahani, which is generally held to be 
Watling Island. It is therefore clear, whatever conclusions may be 
drawn from the feet, that, until he reached the neighbourhood in 
which he expected to find the islands, Columbus followed without 
either deviation or hesitation a direct course, but from the 1 
he realised no islands were there he began to sail at haphazard. 



the neighbourhood of the 30th parallel of latitude, did not 

DA Toscanclli, whence did it come? Evidently 

DM li mi Columbus himself, since he had never before 

■0 far. Reasoning may have led him to conclude 

t hut by nailing directly westward the shores of Asia would 

be reached; but no amount of theoretical 

1 1 1 11! iifii could have led him to the certainty that 
ialumli, hitherto unknown, existed at some well-defined 

jj "i 11 1 1 he Atlantic ; and yet we know he had this 
■ i-iliilnly. Whence, therefore, did it come? To answer 
u.i r i nun, or ut least to offer some reasonable explana- 
tion 11I ilirr |nijiit it raises, we must here pause in order 
1,, 1 .hi. c ,i iciiiii|M', -live view of some facts already men- 

11 'it In .1 liiiini'i ch,i|iti-r we have shown that, on the 

H >il thn discovery of the New World, the report 

.|in .id, 1 wo among the companions of Columbus, that his 

i; I luiliiiu- i\,ti t-ntiivly due to a pilot who had by 

.li. in.. I.inih'il mi one of the Antilles, and who had taken 
ilu h, mil;, ol tho island so as to mark it on a chart 

1.. 1 rdinfl lO t)M ttoiy, appears to have been con- 

.iiiuUil with the help of Columbus himself, to whom the 
pilot in the hum of death had revealed his secret We 
tftvi: li*ivil this story to its sources, and we think we 
liiu .lumii. eontfWy (0 'he view taken by most modern 
.mihi'i 1 who hu. tmted the subject somewhat too super- 
twulfy, that the ti.iJitioii rwfecting the pilot, who is said 
CohMXhW, rWts OH very serious data; 
itut CvJutnhuW own otunp&oioaa b ri wwrad it; and that there 
cxUl no jioi«,l atwVR 'K it to be apocryphal*" 

Pirn tor the value and historical 

*» MM HAfM v. sit Uw *'i» 

oi on. n 



If these conclusions are justified, and if the material 
fact contained in the tradition be true, viz., that there existed 
a pilot who, returning from an adventurous voyage in the 
Atlantic, gave Columbus information as to one or more 
islands he had, or thought he had, discovered ; if this 
information were set down on a chart which came to 
Columbus, or which he may even have helped to prepare 
— and all these facts seem vouched for — we are compelled 
to draw the conclusions logically arising therefrom : viz., 
that we have here a group of circumstances which explain 
in a simple and natural manner the certainty Columbus 
and Pinzon felt as to the existence and position of the 
islands they sought on the 25th September 1492; and it 
is difficult to believe that the map they had under their 
eyes was other than the one tradition said Columbus either 
obtained from the pilot, or constructed under his super- 
vision. If this supposition be well founded — and it is 
difficult to think otherwise when the circumstances we have 
just recalled corroborate it so clearly — the map in which 
Las Casas says Columbus placed absolute confidence ; 
the map whereby the pilots of the memorable voyage of 
1492 steered ; the map which has always been thought 
Toscanelli's, because Las Casas says so, and the Historic 
repeats the statement after him ; this famous map did not 
come from the learned Florentine, but from, at least in 
one of its essentials, the unnamed pilot whom tradition 
points out as being the instructor of Columbus on the 
route he should take to reach the islands which were 
thought to be those of the Indies. 

This is, evidently, a bold conjecture, the logical basis 
for which is the difficulty of otherwise explaining the 


fcaoe cf Columbus that islands actually existed where 

Mp «*«tked them ; for, if we admit these islands 

fcvie been shown on a map coming from Tos- 

C it was such a map Columbus and Pinz6n 

lust explain how Toscanelli came by such 

1 why Columbus, when speaking of this 

t act mention Toscanelli as its author, but, on 

wveys the idea that he constructed it him- 

» it «t oote that no further use is made of this map 

p; fes principal purpose seems to have been to 

■^gfc mW *"UJ« leading to these islands. We may also 

l^Wi'H •&** Pinion, like Columbus, appears to have 

t w> the existence of the islands, and to have been 

Hinted with the map on which they were 

Efrnirrf *b** would not be intelligible in the event of 

Ite *y^ Mvc TgacincUi's, whereas we can easily under- 

4JM *** °* Bk > belonging to a family of pilots, 

tf*Jt ^hjtf tut * port frequented almost exclusively by 

vtfcHH WxWUfi h»*nl of the stocy of the nameless pilot 

mfrarl be wore than strange were this not the 

■ » »v»» permissible to suppose that a know- 

l <*( taiv **y «u one of the reasons which led the 

,> «W ^M**etwU ■Miners of Palos, to embark 

< v MrwAJRS tv> have Possessed the same 

. MW&- It is well to call the 
iv tfcia Us* observation, as it may 
ft^fc W* »\yftWi»^W rf *•* independent attitude 
Wife Ovfr a uba * . 

-.** tfetu*? » the help given to 



the great navigator by this piiot and his family that the 
memorable voyage of 1492 was rendered possible ; and as 
we have just seen Columbus consulted with him on critical 
occasions. Later on Columbus, yielding to Pinz6n's 
advice, changed the squadron's course in favour of the 
one he recommended. Still later again this pilot left 
Columbus in order to search by himself for the lands that 
were the object of the voyage, and in the end he tried to 
get back to Palos before the discoverer himself. Finally, 
we find Charles V ennobling the Pinz6n family as a 
reward for the distinguished services the head thereof, 
this very Martin Alonzo Pinzon, had rendered in the 1492 

All this tends to show this individual was something more 
than a mere pilot, such as Juan de La Cosa, for instance, 
who was nevertheless Columbus' own pilot, and owned the 
caravel on which he had embarked. The Admiral treated 
Pinzdn differently from the others; he handed him the road- 
map and discussed it with him ; he took his advice, not 
merely on technical points, but on what constituted the 
very object of the expedition ; that is to say, the position 
where they expected to find the islands of which they were 
in quest, and on the course to steer to find them, in which 
latter respect we know that Pinz6n made his views prevail. 

Would matters have so passed unless Pinzon possessed 
the same information as Columbus and thought himself as 
well entitled as the Admiral to interpret it? If Columbus 
were only guided by information of a theoretical character, 
arising either from his studies and scientific documents or 
obtained from Toscanelli, why did he consult with a sailor 
who only possessed practical knowledge? And if the part 



played by Pinzon in the great undertaking were only that 
of a simple subordinate, who followed the course com- 
manded by his leader, why should the emperor grant an 
exceptional honour to his family based at least in part 
on the role he had played in the discovery of H ispaniola. 1 * 
Let us further remark that what is said of the feelings 
of envy and jealousy Pinzon entertained towards Columbus, 
and the silly tale that he died from the remorse he suffered 
for his conduct towards the Admiral, come from Las Casas, K 
that is to say, from the man on whom falls the responsi- 
bility of producing the false letters of Toscanelli while 
taking care to conceal the source whence he had obtained 

We leave the reader to draw his own conclusions from 
a judicious study of these facts. 

VII.— The so-called Toscanelli Map was not 
the Road-map of Columbus.— We may therefore 
henceforth take the following proposition to be sufficiently 

The road-map of Columbus could not have come from 
Toscanelli. It was above everything a map giving practi- 
cal information, due, apparently, to the pilot who either 
discovered or thought he had discovered one of the 
Antilles, and had taken Columbus into his confidence. 

m The deed is dated the 23rd September 1519; it is given br 
Navarrcte, Vitzges, vol. III., pp. 145-146. The services rendered by this 
distinguished family are therein enumerated, and special mcminn B 
made of the voyage of 1492, of the discovery of Hayti and of other 
islands .... en descubrimicnto de la is/a Espaiiola y 

*" See the Historic, fol. 84; and Las Casas, vol. I., p. 469. 



Are we then to suppose that two maps existed : the 
one, mentioned by Las Casas and by him attributed to 
Toscanelli, a theoretical map constructed on scientific 
data ; the other, the one that served as road-map to 
Columbus, a practical map drafted from the information 
obtained from pilots? It would seem so. The existence 
of a map which served as Columbus" road-map cannot be 
called in question. It is true we do not know exactly 
what this map was, since it has disappeared and no one 
has described it ; but as has been shown we have, never- 
theless, good reasons to believe it existed. The same 
is true of the other, the map Las Casas declares was 
Toscanelli's. But, if we cannot contest the material fact 
of the existence of a document a man like him avers he 
saw and had in his possession, it is not so with regard 
to his assertion that it was this document which served 
as road-map to Columbus. In this he surely errs, for if 
the so-called Toscanelli map is apocryphal it is neces- 
sarily of later date than the first voyage of Columbus, 
and could not, consequently, have served as road-map on 
that voyage. Nor can it have performed this function if 
it is genuine, seeing that the map whereby Columbus 
steered his course gave indications which could not have 
been known to Toscanelli. 

Therefore apparently there existed two different maps, 
one being that attributed to Toscanelli, but which did not 
serve as road-map to the great voyage of 1492, and the 
other being the one by which Columbus did really 
direct his course, but which was not made by Toscanelli. 

It is assuredly surprising that Las Casas, who had such 
good means of being well acquainted with all that con- 



cerned Columbus, with whose family he lived on terms of 
friendship, and all whose family papers were in his posses- 
sion, should have so far blundered as to confound two 
maps so dissimilar as must have been the chart which 
really served Columbus as his road -map and the one 
Toscanelli is reputed to have made, and which was the 
expression of a cosmographical conception to which 
Columbus did not attain until after his great discoveries. 
But, as has already been said, this is not the only strange 
thing to arrest our attention in the language of Las Casas 
when he is speaking of Columbus. Thus, for example, 
it is he who knew all about Columbus, he who was at the 
very source of all authentic information concerning the 
great navigator ; it is he who sends us for information 
about the birthplace of Columbus to the Portuguese 
historian, Barros, who knew absolutely nothing about him 
personally. This fact is worth noting as showing in Las 
Casas a very singular ignorance touching certain details 
in the life of the man whose constant panegyrist he 
became. Las Casas' error on this interesting point is 
strange, and well-nigh inexplicable, but it exists ; of that 
there can be no doubt The map he tells us was Toscan- 
elli's, which he assures us was first sent to Martins and 
subsequently to Columbus, was certainly not the map by 
which the discoverer steered his way to the New World. 

But may we not admit there was only one map, the 
one Las Casas had in his possession, the one he says 
served as road-map to Columbus, but which, contrary to 
what he also says, did not come from Toscanelli ? This 
hypothesis is not altogether inadmissible. Nevertheless 
we see in it a very grave objection, one that has already 

THE MAP 237 

been indicated ; it is that the terms in which Las Casas 
speaks of the map in his possession are totally inapplic- 
able to the one which appears to have been used by 
Columbus, and which was a simple road -map, whereas 
the other was to some extent a learned map translating 
the cosmographical conceptions displayed in the letter to 
Martins, conceptions which are also identical with those 
held by Columbus, but which he had not yet formed 
when he sailed on his first voyage. 

VIII. — The so-called Toscanelli Map was, like 
the Letter to Martins, Apocryphal. — The motives 
to which may be attributed the fabrication of the letter 
to Martins have been explained in a preceding paragraph. 
It was there said that this forgery, admitting it was a 
forgery, might be accounted for by the desire to justify 
Columbus from the reproach popularly levelled at him 
of having found in the information supplied by a pilot, 
then scarcely dead, the secret of his discovery, and in 
order to show that, contrary to this injurious imputation, 
he had been guided in his great undertaking by a scientific 
theory to which a celebrated astronomer had given his 

If we refer to the terms in which Oviedo, Las Casas, 
and Gomara relate the history of the pilot who is supposed 
to have instructed Columbus, it will be seen that a map 
is mentioned which the pilot with the help of Columbus 
had constructed, whereon the isle or isles he had discovered 
and the route to reach them again were indicated. This 
map plays an important part in the story. Without it 
the anonymous pilot could have given no useful informa- 


tion to Columbus ; it is therefore probable, nay certain 
that it is particularly to this map those persons referred 
who said publicly that Columbus knew nothing of him 
self, and that it was only through the revelations of the 
pilot, who took him for a confidant, that he learned the 
route to the Indies. If the letter to Martins is apocryphal, 
and if the forgery was committed for the end we have 
indicated, it goes without saying that the authors of the 
fraud had specially in view the above-mentioned map of 
the pilot, because on this document was based the story 
that was so prejudicial to Columbus. This reason explains 
the mention of a map in the letter to Martins, and also 
the concocting of that map. By affirming that the map 
used by Columbus on his voyage in 1492 came to him 
from a learned cosmographer, they destroyed all the point 
the discoverer's detractors gave to the story they related. 
Henceforth it could not be said that Columbus had borrowed 
the information necessary for his discovery from a map on 
which an obscure pilot had recorded the results of his own 
experience, he owed it to his own thoughts which he had 
submitted to a celebrated scholar who had accorded them 
his high sanction. 

We need not repeat here the views already developed 
which give reason to doubt the authenticity of the 
letter to Martins. It is evident the same arguments 
which lead to the belief that the letter was apocryphal 
apply also to the map, which is supposed to have accom- 
panied it, and which had the same origin and object. It 
would, in fact, be absurd to think that the map came from 
Toscanelli, while the letter, of which it was a geographical 
translation, did not. The mention of the map, therefore, 

THE MAP 239 

in the suspected letters goes for nothing in proving 
its genuineness. If the letter is not from Toscanelli 
neither is the map. In fabricating these documents the 
authors of the deception naturally inspired themselves 
with Columbus' own ideas, for this letter and map were 
given out to be the source whence he himself had drawn 
these very ideas. But it can be shown, as we think we 
have done, that Columbus, in whom indeed are found the 
cosm ©graphical and geographical views expressed in this 
famous letter and its cartographical complement, only 
acquired them gradually, and subsequent to his great 
discovery; whereas, were these documents authentic, he 
must have formed them fifteen years earlier. This reason- 
ing weighs heavily in the considerations which lead to the 
belief that neither the letter to Martins nor the map in 
question is authentic. 

IX. — The Road-map of Columbus showed the 
Discoveries of the Anonymous Pilot and repre- 
We have admitted that if the letter to Martins is genuine 
so also is the map to which it refers. But in supposing 
that there had really ever existed a map from Toscanelli, 
it is certain it exercised no influence over Columbus, and 
that it has never served any other purpose save to 
exercise the critical faculty of those who have sought to 
reconstruct it. It is not the same, however, with the 
road- map of Columbus. The existence and importance 
of this map, which Columbus and Pinz6n consulted several 
times between the 20th and 25th of September, on which 
Columbus himself sought to establish his bearings, aided 


by his pilot and some of his sailors 188 — thus proving 
great store he set by its information — are two points which 
cannot be placed in doubt. 

Unfortunately we know very little about this map. 
We have, as we have seen, good reason to believe it 
represented the real or imaginary discoveries of the name- 
less pilot; but that is all we know. If we refer to 
Columbus' Log-book, written or outlined at sea during the 
first voyage, he had already, at that early period, acquired 
the conviction that he should reach the Indies by sailing 
directly to the west But we are entitled to call in 
question the strict accuracy of the text of that Log- 

138 The gap in the researches, here indicated, definitely fixing 
criticism as to the authenticity of the Toscanelli-Columbus correspon- 
dence, will, I hope, be filled up by my friend Seiior G. de la Rosa, 
who is better equipped lhan any one for such a work. Seiior de la 
Rosa has on this question views which are special to himself, and 
which are essentially different from those expressed in this study. 
When he makes them known, which we hope will be at no distant 
date, they will cause some surprise, but they are certain to obtain 
all the attention due to serious criticism. While awaiting this work, 
the one M. Sumien has been good enough to communicate to me, 
and which will be found in the Appendix, will cause those to reflect 
who hold as proved that the letter to Martins was written by an 
eminent Florentine at the very period when the culture of classical 
literature was at its heyday in Italy. I regret 1 am unable to add here 
a note 1 received on this subject from Mr John B. Shipley, from whom I 
publish further on a letter on the same point. In this note, which he 
intends publishing with the explanation that it will require, Mr Shipley 
remarks that the Latin text of the letter to Martins contains such Italian- 
isms that one is driven to ask whether, far from being the original text, 
it is not a translation or expansion of a text originally written in Italian. 
Mr Shipley has no doubt on the subject, and finds confirmation of his 
view in the ingenious idea he puts forward that Toscanelli's so-called 
second letter is an Italian letter which served as the basis for concocting 
the other. See Appendix F. 

THE MAP 24t 

book in so far as Las Casas has made it known to 

The mention in this text of the road to the Indies, of 
Cathay, of Cipangu, and other names which occur in the 
letter to Martins, can in no way be reconciled with the 
double demonstration that this letter is false and the pilot 
story is true, for from this demonstration logically follows 
the theory that Columbus simply sailed to the re-dis- 
covery of the lands seen by the pilot. We have full right 
therefore to believe that if these names are found in the 
original text of Columbus' Log, which Las Casas possessed 
and which has since completely disappeared, they were 
later additions placed there either by Columbus himself, 
after he had convinced himself he had attained the region 
of the Isles of the Indies, or by some other person who 
had an interest in seeking to establish the authenticity of 
the forged documents. In either case the road-map used 
on the voyage could have contained no information 
respecting the Indies ; and the fact, already stated, that, 
after realising on the 25th September no islands existed 
where indicated by the map, no further use was made of 
that map, bears out this view. The road-map of 1492 
had evidently as its principal characteristic the location 
of the islands and lands sought for by Columbus and 
Pinzdn on the 25th September. If it located any other 
it was probably Cipangu, with which it is likely Columbus 
was acquainted through Marco Polo, and which he thought 
could not be far away from the lands or islands seen by 
the pilot, as we have pointed out before. 

As to the other map, the one said to have accompanied 
the letter to Martins, we must again repeat, that whether 



genuine or not, it has left nowhere a trace behind, and there 
is not the shadow of a reason for believing Columbus ever 
made any use of it, and there is no indication that it ever 
served for any purpose or was of use to any one. 

It is none the less greatly to be regretted that it should 
have disappeared, for it would have afforded us a graphic 
representation of the ideas Columbus had formed on the 
geography of the regions lying between the western and 
eastern extremities of the Old World. Several distin- 
guished cartographers have attempted its reconstruction, 
but these efforts, however interesting they may otherwise 
be, are all based on the mistaken notion that the map 
in question was Toscanelli's and represented his cosmo- 
graphica! conceptions in 1474. We have in our turn under- 
taken not its reconstruction, but to show what were the 
geographical notions it intended to convey ; and this task 
we have accomplished, guiding ourselves solely by the new 
facts developed in this work. It is the map made by 
Columbus, or constructed after his ideas, as they stand 
expressed in his own writings and in the letter to Martins, 
that we have sought to compile. 




We would now sum up this lengthy study and show briefly 
how the question it raises stands in the light of the argu- 
ments we have adduced, and at what solution we can 
arrive that shall completely answer all the difficulties of 
the problem. 

In the first place we must clearly distinguish facts which 
have been established from those which are only surmised 
or possess merely a hypothetical value. In all tasks of 
criticism, analysis, which is rather destructive in character, 
is carried out under more certain conditions that synthesis, 
the object of which is reconstruction. It is consequently far 
easier to show cause why the authenticity of the corre- 
spondence of Toscanelli with Martins and Columbus should 
be held in doubt than to find the motives for and the 
authors of the fraud that is suspected. 

This having been said, let us recall that the corre- 
spondence attributed to Toscanelli bearing on the route to 
the Indies is composed : — Firstly, of a letter and map sent 
by him in 1474 to Fernam Martins, a Canon of Lisbon and 
confidential Councillor to King Alfonso; secondly, of a copy 


of these two documents communicated by him to Columbus 
with an undated covering note of a few lines ; and thirdly, 
of a letter, also undated, written by him to Columbus. 
The facts already explained dealing with this coi 
spondence and the consequences that may legitimately 
drawn from them can be classified as follows :— 

I. — Facts on which rests the Belief in the 
Authenticity of the Documents. — The affirmation 
of Las Casas, who is the first to mention this correspondence, 
which he has transcribed in his Historia, begun in 152; 
and finished in 1559. 

The affirmation of the Historie, a work attributed 
Ferdinand Columbus, and first published in 15; 

The existence of a copy of the letter to Martins, wri 1 
upon the fly-leaf of a book which had belonged to Columl 
and in a handwriting resembling his. 

The fact that Duke Hercules of Este made inquiries 
in 1494 as to the communications Toscanelli may have 
had with Columbus. 

The fact that the cosmographical ideas, developed in 
the letter to Martins, are exactly the same as those expressed 
by Columbus. 

But these facts are not all of equal value. Thus, for 
instance, the double evidence of Las Casas and Ferdinand 
Columbus makes in fact but one. If Las Casas copied 
the Historie, which does not appear in the least likely, for he 
does not say so, although it was a custom with him to 
name his authorities, then it was from the son of Columbus 
the impugned documents came. If, on the contrary, and 
as seems very probable, it was the editor of the Historit 




who copied Las Casas, then on him alone falls the sole 
responsibility for the production of these documents. In 
either case the affirmation of the existence of this corre- 
spondence rests upon the testimony of a single witness, 
which testimony nothing confirms or corroborates, but, on 
the contrary, everything seems to contradict 

It must also be remarked it is by no means established 
that the copy of the letter to Martins on the leaf of Pius II 
in the Cotombina was actually written by Columbus. We 
have here only a supposition which it is impossible to 
prove, and which is supported by no other circumstance, 
whereas several very significant ones may be adduced 
for the opposite hypothesis i viz., the absolute silence of 
Columbus as to the existence of these documents ; the 
fact that he never used or attempted to make use of them ; 
and the difficulty there is of distinguishing his handwriting 
from Bartholomew's. 

In any case, outside the four facts we have specified, 
there exists nothing, absolutely nothing, which can lead 
to the belief that Toscanellt was ever in correspondence 
either with a councillor of the King of Portugal or with 
Columbus, or that at any period of his life he occupied 
himself with the route to the Indies ; whereas quite a host 
of circumstances can be cited which tend to show the im- 
probability, not to say the impossibility, of the existence 
of such relations. 

II. — Facts which tend to show that the Corre- 

— The original documents — numerous enough — those left 

2 4 6 


in Italy as well as those sent to Portugal no longer ext 
and no one has ever seen them. 

The first of the supposed correspondents of Toscanell 
Fernam Martins, Canon of Lisbon, confidential adviser to 
King Alfonso, is completely unknown. He is nowh' 

Paolo, the physician, in other words Toscanelli, is 
unknown to all the Portuguese of that time. He is 
mentioned by any one of them or in a single Portugui 

The project of crossing the Atlantic, as suggested in 
the letter to Martins, was as unknown in Portugal as were 
Toscanelli or Martins themselves. Not a single Portugui 
author or document of the time alludes to it 

The contemporary Italian authors, most of them either 
Toscanelli's friends or at least living like him in Florence, 
knew as little as the Portuguese about the correspondi 
their townsman is supposed to have had either with Martins 
or Columbus. None of them even knew that he took 
interest in the route to the Indies, yet several of thi 
wrote works in which a reference of this nature migl 
naturally be expected. 

Among Toscanelli's papers not a line on the subji 
has been discovered. 

Columbus, who was very communicative; who gathered 
and noted down with care every scrap of information he 
could find bearing on the attempts at discovery made 
towards the west, and on the existence of new lands in 
that direction ; has never made the remotest allusion to 
Toscanelli, or to the letters and map he is credited with 
receiving from him. He does not even appear to have 





been aware that there had existed in Florence an astrono- 
mer of that name. 

The Latin text of the copy which is given out as being 
the original text of the letter to Martins is written in very 
incorrect language. The errors it contains are not such as 
might have been made by a copyist having before him a 
correct text j they are the actual blunders of the writer of 
the letter himself. 

Las Casasj who is the first to speak of this correspon- 
dence, and who first copied it, only knew it in a Spanish 
translation. He tells us neither how he became aware that 
Toscanelli had had dealings with Martins |and Columbus, 
nor who it was that made the translation which he repro- 
duces, nor who communicated to him this correspondence, 
although he does indeed let it be perceived that it came 
from the family of Columbus itself. 

The compiler of the Historic, attributed to Ferdinand 
Columbus and published in 1571, who also reproduces 
these documents, in the same manner refrains from saying 
whence he obtained them. 

In 1474, the date borne by the most important document 
of this correspondence, the tetter to Martins, the question 
of the route to the East Indies which it discusses had not 
yet been raised. The only Indies then thought of by the 
Portuguese were those of Prester John (Abyssinia). It was 
only during the reign of Joao II, after 1481, that they 
began to take an interest in the route to the Indies. 

The question of the spice trade with the East, also 
mentioned in the letter, did not exist for the Portuguese 
in 1474; at that time they had no motive to draw them 
to the Indies; this question only arose as a consequence 



of their discovery of the western shores of South Africs 
a discovery which led to the creation and development c 
quite new commercial interests. 

In [474 King Alfonso was too deeply engaged i 
political and military action against Castile, the crown 1 
which country he claimed, to spare time for transatlai 
discoveries. And if, by any chance, such an idea 1 
occurred to him, it is not likely he would have appl 
for information thereon to a learned man who had nevi 
been outside Florence, when his own Portuguese, who wei 
then the best sailors in the world and the only one: 
acquainted with the Atlantic, could have advised him 
better than any one. 

The letter to Martins expresses the cosmographies 
system of Marinus of Tyre, a system only known to 1 
through Ptolemy, who was still unprinted in 1474. 

Toscanelli may indeed have known Marinus of Tyre 
through the manuscripts of Ptolemy; but a mathematician 
of his high standing would not have adopted his system, 
as does the writer of the letter to Martins, because 
Ptolemy, while describing it, points out its fundamental 
error which would have been patent to any learned cosmo- 

Although the geographical nomenclature of this letter, 
borrowed entirely from Marco Polo, had been in abeyance 
for a century and a half in China, the author of the letter 
makes Toscanelli chat with an ambassador from that 
country, who speaks to him as though the names mentioned 
by the Venitian traveller were those still in usage. 

Columbus' cosmographical ideas are the same as those 
contained in the letter to Martins; but he gives them as 


being his very own, and we know he did not obtain them 
from this letter ; he acquired them from the Imago Mundi, 
from the relation of Marco Polo, and from Ptolemy's 
geography, three works printed subsequently to the date 
borne by the letter to Martins. We furthermore know 
that Columbus gave expression to the ideas found in the 
letter to Martins only after his last voyages. 

The document announced as being a second letter from 
Toscanelli to Columbus differs from the first neither in 
substance nor, indeed, in form. We must therefore suppose 
that Toscanelli wrote twice to Columbus to tell him the 
same thing and in almost exactly the same language. 
The road-map of the 1492 voyage gave information as to 
the position of certain islands in mid-Atlantic, information 
which Columbus took as Gospel and which could not by 
any possibility have come from Toscanelli. 

III.— Facts which mav explain the Fraud.— On 
the very morrow of the discovery of the New World it 
was said that the credit for that discovery was not due 
to Columbus, but to a pilot who had by accident landed 
on one of the Antilles, and who had revealed to him the 
route thither. 

This story was widespread among Columbus' own com- 
panions, and also among those who were the first to colonise 
Hispaniola. Las Casas, whose curious chapter on this 
subject has escaped the attention of all those who have 
dealt with the question, bears witness to this fact 
and does not gainsay the tale. Belief in the story was 
general and lasted for a long while. From 1535 to 1552 
it was revived and propagated by the publication and 


reprinting of the books by Oviedo and Gomara, the latter 
giving the story in a form distinctly damaging to Columbus. 

Above all it did harm to the heirs and successors of 
Columbus, to whom the Crown refused to continue the 
honours and extraordinary privileges granted to the great 
discoverer, contesting, if not indeed the discoveries, at least 
the importance of the personal part he had played therein. 
Columbus, who took pleasure in dwelling on the numerous 
tales of pilots he had collected, does not however say a 
word of this story, although it was current among his 
companions, who all thoroughly believed in it 

Las Casas returned from America and definitely took 
up his abode in Spain in 1547: this was the time when 
he revised and enlarged his book, which was finished in 
'559* This was also the period when he obtained possession 
of all Columbus' papers; when, evidently, the correspon- 
dence attributed to ToscaneUt was handed to him, and 
when also the tale of the pilot who had instructed Columbus 
was recalled by the publications of Oviedo and Gomara. 

Here, reduced to their simplest form and without com- 
ment, are all the facts bearing on the correspondence 
Toscanelli is supposed to have had with Fernam Martins 
and Christopher Columbus. They are well vouched for, 
and it is on them, and on them alone, that must rest the 
explanations it is sought to give them. 

IV. — Unlikelihood of the Correspondence attri- 
buted TO TOSCANELLI. — From the preceding examination, 
which we have just summarised, one conclusion appears 
clearly to stand out, namely, that everything in this corre- 
spondence which Toscanelli is alleged to have carried on, 


first with Fernam Martins and afterwards with Columbus, 
lies open to suspicion. 

The circumstances under which it is pretended to have 
taken place ; the absolute ignorance of it by all those who 
should have known of its existence; the inexplicable silence 
Columbus maintains on the subject ; the total disappear- 
ance of the original documents ; the mysterious source 
whence the translations came ; the improbability that a 
man in Toscanelli's position should have sent to an un- 
known person, as Columbus then was, the copy of a 
document alleged to have been drafted for a king, and 
having, moreover, in some sort an official character ; the 
very terms of this document in which at least two flagrant 
anachronisms can be detected ; in which nothing indicates 
that it comes from a great cosmographer living at the 
fountainhead of all information bearing on the East ; 
which only mentions matters then of common knowledge 
in Portugal ; and, finally, this damning fact, that the 
famous letter reproduces a geographical system the false- 
ness of which could not have escaped the notice of a man 
like Toscanelli, inasmuch as Ptolemy, who informs us of 
this system, also demonstrates that the calculations on 
which it is based are wrong; all these facts are bound 
to raise our suspicions and lead us to think we are faced 
by one of those frauds so common at that period, but 
which it is also very difficult effectively to unmask. 

Can it be pleaded in this case that sometimes fact is 
stranger than fiction? It is conceivable, if we allow our- 
selves even more than poetic license, that the original 
documents of the Toscanelli- Martins correspondence may 
have disappeared without having excited the attention of any 


other person except Columbus, and that furthermore the 
relations which subsequently existed between Toscanelli 
and Columbus himself should have been known to Las 
Casas alone. 

But then we must go even one step further. We must 
consider as possible the existence of a Canon of Lisbon, 
cSosely connected with the king himself, whose very name 
has escaped the notice of all those who should and must 
have known him ; we must accept that King Alfonso was 
seeking to reach the Indies by the west at a period when 
no one in Portugal was thinking of going to them even by 
the east, and when neither the question of the route to the 
Indies nor the spice trade existed in the Iberian peninsula ; 
we must remain unsurprised that all the documents and 
chroniclers of the period leave unmentioncd a fact of this 
nature ; that no one about Toscanelli was ever aware 
that he occupied himself with finding a new route to the 
Indies ; finally, we must consider it was quite natural that 
a great scholar like this astronomer should adopt the 
system of Marinus of Tyre without perceiving how errone- 
ous it was, and that Columbus should copy with his own 
hand a document which would otherwise seem to have been 
completely unknown to him. 

On these conditions, but only on these conditions, 
we admit that these letters of Toscanelli, which from their 
antecedents as well as from their contents bear the stamp 
of forgery, are genuine. 

V.— Various Objections. — The conclusion, to which 
so many reasons lead us, that all these documents 
apocryphal, is not, however, without its difficulties and 




objections. If, indeed, as we have supposed, the letters 
of Toscanelli were concocted to destroy the suspicions of 
those who alleged that Columbus had secret information 
wherewith to make his discovery, why did the authors 
wait to make use of the fraud till the publication of the ' 
volume of 1571, that is to say, till a period when the 
question which suggested the forgery was forgotten ; and 
how came it to pass unnoticed that, if these letters prove 
Columbus owed nothing to any pilot whatsoever, they 
also proved he owed everything to the learned Florentine, 
who, fifteen years before him, apparently conceived, formu- 
lated, and proposed his own scheme expressed exactly in 
his own terms? 

If Duke Hercules d'Este learned in 1494 of the relations 
Toscanelli had with Columbus, how are we to reconcile 
this with the facts we have proved in this work, that the 
letter to Martins carries in itself evidence of having been 
fabricated at a period much later than the date it bears? 

If Columbus actually copied with his own hand this 
letter, how are we to explain his attitude which throughout 
his life was contrary to the supposition that he knew of 
its existence? 

If the documents attributed to Toscanelli are apocryphal, 
as everything appears to indicate, why were they fabricated, 
since neither Columbus nor his heirs made any use of them, 
and they were not made public till long after the great 
man was dead? 

Here we have several obscure points on which criticism 
hesitates to express a definite opinion. But these points are 
only secondary and do not affect the kernel of the question ; 
and, no matter how embarrassing they may prove, they 


cannot succeed in destroying or even weakening the fore 
of the formidable array of facts heretofore marshalled 
against the supposition that the documents attributed to 
Toscanelti are authentic It is, moreover, certain that 
discussion will throw light upon these points, and will in 
the end show how they are to be reconciled with the un- 
impeachable results obtained by sound criticism. Those 
who may follow us in this investigation will reach a further 
point ; they will seek for and discover some circumstance 
not yet laid bare which shall make clear what is now 
obscure; they will institute a comparative study between 
the linguistic expressions of the letter of the 25th June 
1474 and those in use at Florence at the same period, and 
will let us know if we are really in presence of a document 
belonging to the most brilliant era of Florentine Latinity. 
An examination of this character will remove the last 
doubt, and will finally settle the question, if what we have 
here done does not suffice for that purpose. 

As a whole, the question, in its present state, may be 
summed up as follows : our belief in the existence of the 
relations attributed to the Florentine scholar with Martins 
and Columbus rests wholly on a single witness, the Bishop 
of Chiapas, who indicates his authorities but vaguely, who 
wrote seventy years after the time these relations are 
supposed to have existed, and whose assertions on this point 
are absolutely irreconcilable with well-established facts. 


I.— Columbus could not be ignorant of the 
Fraud, yet he never mentioned the Spurious 



DOCUMENTS.— Now that we have closed our inquiry and 
have demonstrated what may, nay, what must be thought on 
the question of the authenticity of the documents attributed 
to Toscanelli, as well as the question arising therefrom, viz., 
the true origin of Columbus' great undertaking, we must 
say a few words about Columbus himself, and of the per- 
sonal part he played in the intrigue, the source and motive 
of which we have endeavoured to find. Let us as a pre- 
liminary state that Columbus could not have been ignorant 
of the fraud committed in his interest. 

The name of Toscanelli was mentioned in 1494 — of 
that there can be no doubt — and the documents which bear 
witness to the fraud are there. It would be contrary to 
the logic of events to believe that the most interested person 
knew neither of the mention of the name of Toscanelli nor 
the fact that certain persons had concocted or proposed 
concocting documents which purported to have come to 
him from that scholar. We are therefore driven to admit 
that Columbus intentionally refrained from making any 
mention of the relations he is supposed to have had with 
the learned Florentine. 

But why? What is the motive for this stubborn silence, 
as strange if the documents were authentic, since Columbus 
owed nothing to them, as if he had aided in their fabrication; 
for in the latter case he would surely have used them? 
Was it that he wished to benefit by the fraud without 
appearing to have dabbled in it ? 

But, as a matter of fact, he neither profited nor sought 
to profit by it ; and it would seem that had he had any 
such intention, it must have leaked out one way or another ; 
for a man so profuse and exuberant in speech and writing 


as Columbus must have let slip his secret desire, and i 
should somewhere have traced his hand in the plot ; yet 
such is not the case, for as long as he lived the forgery 
remained, for him as well as for all his family, as though 
it had never existed. 

If we therefore brush aside this supposition, and, never- 
theless, are bound to admit Columbus could not be 
ignorant of the fraud, we find ourselves faced by the 
following alternative : — 

Either at first Columbus was tacitly or directly associ- 
ated with the trick and he afterwards drew back, or 
throughout he declined to participate in it. 

If it were shown that he was really the author of the 
transcription of the Latin text in the volume of Pius II 
in the Colombina, his complicity would be demonstrated, 
and there could be no hesitation in saying that he knew 
not only of the fraud but had taken a hand in it. But 
this proof has not yet been established, nor indeed could it 
be, when the only evidence consists in mere resemblance of 
handwriting, a form of testimony which has often led to 
error, and must in its very nature be always inconclusive. 
Meanwhile criticism has a right to say that the supposition 
which exonerates the discoverer of America from all active 
participation in the trickery we seek to unmask is the 
only one that is in agreement with all the facts as they 
are known to us. 

II. — Possible Explanation of his Attitude. — To 
the very important and material fact that Columbus always 
acted as though he was ignorant of the suggestion that he 
had had relations with Toscanelli, we must add that this 


titude was logical on his part, and is to be explained by 
a very good reason, namely, that the fraud, invented on his 
behalf, was at once useless and dangerous to him. It was 
useless, because it was easy to foresee that the story of the 
pilot, being based on no positive evidence, would in the 
course of time be forgotten, or would at least lose a!l im- 
portance, as in fact happened, and that consequently there 
was no reason to be inordinately distressed by the unpleas- 
ing impression it had created. 

It was dangerous to him because it substituted for the 
pilot so weighty and competent a rival as Toscanelli, in 
claiming the merit, to which Columbus tenaciously clung, 
of having discovered the reasons which demonstrated the 
possibility of reaching the Indies by the west 

We may further remark, and it is a remark very much 
to the point, that it was the invention of this pretended 
correspondence with Toscanelli that drew the critic's 
attention to the forgotten or despised story of Columbus 
having received information from a pilot ; it led to the 
searching inquiry which established the truth of that story 
at least in its essential points. Had the letter to Martins 
never been produced, the adventure of the anonymous 
pilot would still be generally considered as a legend built 
on no substantial foundation. The very same reasons 
which tell against the authenticity of this famous letter 
demonstrate that this legend about the pilot bears the 
very stamp of truth. Thus, in abstaining from meddling 
with this affair, Columbus had a very excellent reason, 
beyond the mere risk of compromising himself. 

II. — Unexplained Points. — This 

does not 


, explain all. In a story so old as this, which has 
not yet been cleared up by discussion, there always remain 
Mine obscure points which it is difficult, if not impossible, 
to lay bare. Among these we must class the period when 
Columbus was induced to assume the attitude he adopted, 
and the late date at which the letter was fabricated. 

As regards the first, we may imagine things happened 
much in this way : — 

The forger — we have seen that everything points to 

lUrtholomcw as being that person — after having spoken in 

1404 of the relations of Toscanelli with his brother, whom 

he hail not seen for several years and who had just left 

■ !n MCOnd voyage, rejoined him in the month of April 

of thU year in Hispaniola; it was only then that the 

WOK able to consult together as to what sequel 

Ui.'iiM bo gtWO to the campaign already begun by 

Bmholoaww, and we think it was at this moment Colum- 

Idtd to cut himself adrift from an intrigue so 

(MUVdontty got up, and to forbid its being carried further. 

undeniably certain is that from 1494 Columbus 

■ unity maintain silence, a complete silence, on the 

I .-, 1 1 1 m nctawa with Toscanelli and on the information 

1 i»tiK' from him. 

Wo have no guide as to the second point The letter 

in Mtrtlni carriw fa itself the proof that it was drawn 

V |. lit. 1 thl dll COTari w Ot" Columbus; but no explanation 

\*\\ U' itvtn "'»>' it was written at so late a date, seeing 

tin) id. 1. waj "»> intention to use it, and, as a matter of 

...i u iii'ver was used. Was it that Bartholomew, who 

; man, determined, in spite of all, to carry 

|g Ml whUQI^ in the belief that perhaps later it might 


prove useful ? Was it before or after the death of Columbus 
that he concocted this document, which, with its accompany- 
ing map, remained among his papers, where later on they 
were found ? Was it, as we have supposed, Lufs Colon who 
gave them to Las Casas, or was it Las Casas who himself 
brought them back from Hayti where Bartholomew had 

These are questions to which it is impossible to reply as 
yet, but which later on will doubtless be cleared up. After 
all they, too, have only a secondary importance. 

The essential fact, the new fact, which it is the object 
of this work to establish, is that everything tends to show 
that the letter to Martins is apocryphal, and that it was 
concocted for the purpose of showing the discovery of 
America resulted from the application of a scientific theory 
devised by Columbus, and sanctioned by a great scholar, 
whereas, in fact, it was solely due to practical information 
about which Columbus and his family never breathed a 
word. For our part we do not hesitate to say the fraud 
is evident, and that all the surroundings of the case point 
to Bartholomew as being both the inspirer and the agent. 
We do not think it can be proved that Columbus himself 
participated in it to any degree. 

IV.— Columbus is not blameless in the matter. 
— But, though this proof cannot be established, it is necessary 
to state that it is equally impossible to exonerate the great 
navigator from all complicity in a plot which had both the 
intention and the result of making history He in attributing 
to the discovery of America a character and origin different 
from the true facts, and in according to the author of that 


discovery a credit to which he was not entitled. If Columbus 

refrained from taking part in the concoction of the corre- 
spondence attributed to Toscanelli, he has at least carefully 
hidden his obligations to the unlucky pilot, to whom in 
fact he owed everything. He has allowed it to be believed, 
he has even taken trouble to have it believed, that his dis- 
covery was the result of a laborious working out of a scientific 
conception, whereas in fact it was solely due to material 
and practical information secretly obtained from another ; 
and by so doing he has usurped before posterity a place 
to which he was not entitled. Nothing can wash his 
character clear from this stain ; not even his many mis- 
fortunes borne with heroic fortitude, nor the greatness of 
the service he rendered to the world, nor yet the nobility 
of soul and loftiness of character he often showed under 
critical circumstances. There are some moral weaknesses 
which nothing can obliterate. 

This was not, unfortunately, the only weakness from 
which Columbus suffered. Whatever may be the admiration 
felt for his great qualities, his indomitable" energy, his steady 
perseverance in pursuing the end he had in view, his 
unshaken loyalty to the sovereigns who had employed 
him, his uprightness in all that touched the performance 
of his public duties, we cannot shut our eyes to certain 
traits in his character which reveal him in a very unfavour- 
able light. He was violent, haughty, greedy, harsh, dis- 
sembling, and, worst of all, untruthful, 

V. — Columbus' Tergiversations. — Columbus never 
spoke one word of truth on what related to himself person- 
ally ; and his family, on this point, have carefully followed 


his example. Throughout his letters and writings he has 
sprinkled incorrect statements, skilfully devised, with the 
object either of obscuring certain portions of his life or of 
hiding traces of his origin ; and, in fact, these statements 
have resulted in the creation of a sort of conventional history 
as to the formation of his ideas and the causes which led to 
his discovery. The principal disseminators of this history 
were Las Casas and Ferdinand Columbus, and criticism 
to-day is destroying fragment by fragment this falsification. 
Already the majority of the lies of which it is composed 
have been subjected to the light of truth, and by degrees 
we are beginning to form a correct notion of that part of 
the life of the crafty Genoese he and his have been pleased 
to present to us under such false colours. We know nearly 
everything they so carefully sought to hide, and we want 
but very little to be in a position to reconstruct the story 
of the birth and early life of the discoverer of America, as 
well as the real origin of his great undertaking. 

We know where and when he was born. We know 
the standing of the family to which he belonged. We know 
with sufficient accuracy the employment of his time during 
his early years. 

We can say when and how he arrived in Portugal. We 
know why he fled from that kingdom. We know, finally, 
what is to be thought of his pretended proposals to the 
various European Courts. 

If to all these things which Columbus and his family 
sought to hide, or on which they have sought to deceive 
us, we now add the demonstration that the correspondence 
on which alone rests the belief that the discovery 
of America was the result of a scientific conception care- 



fully elaborated is a forgery, the whole history of the 
origin of the scheme which resulted in that discovery 
changes its aspect, and we can no longer leave on the 
pedestals where history has placed them the lucky Genoese 
who carried out that scheme, and the learned Florentine 
who is supposed to have inspired it. 

The work of criticism in its efforts to reconstruct the 
different phases of the youth of Columbus, and to point 
out the circumstances which really determined his vocation, 
if we may use that expression, has perhaps not been pushed 
sufficiently far to allow us to formulate, with full know- 
ledge, a conclusive opinion on the man whose name is 
indissolubly connected with the greatest event in the 
history of the world. Nevertheless if, in spite of the gaps 
remaining to be filled in the work of reconstructing the 
history of the early years of Columbus, and of the causes 
which gave birth to his project, we were called upon to 
present in a concrete form the results already obtained 
or foreshadowed by criticism, we should be disposed to 
assert that many points in the life of Columbus, on which 
he and his biographers have sought to mislead us, are 
now sufficiently well known in their true light to permit 
us, in the following paragraphs, approximately to sum up 
the true facts which have been replaced by the legend 
accepted as history, 

VI.— The True Beginnings of Columbus.— Columbus 
was born at Genoa. The year of his birth was not 1436, 
as his friend Bernaldez, the Cure of Los Palacios, would 
have us believe, nor was it, as is generally supposed, one 
of the years between 1446 and 1451, but in the latter 



year 1451 itself. If Las Casas, if Ferdinand Columbus, if 
Columbus himself, have made a mystery of this fact, of 
which the two former could no more be ignorant than was 
Columbus himself, it was because by revealing it they 
would be giving a clue to the discovery of certain events 
which they desired to conceal. 

Contrary to what he wished to be believed and to what 
Las Casas and his son Ferdinand have set forth, Columbus 
belonged to an artisan family who lived by manual labour. 
Contrary to what he said himself and to what his author- 
ised biographers have recorded, there was no famous 
admiral in his family. The two celebrated Colombos to 
whom reference is made belonged neither to his blood 
nor country. 

Again, contrary to what both Las Casas and Ferdinand 
allege, he was never at the University of Pavia. The only 
education he ever got was such as he obtained from the 
schools founded and maintained by the Genoese weavers 
and what he was able to procure for himself. 

He never commanded a galley for King Ren«J, nor 
fought in a campaign for that monarch, as he claimed to 
have done, and as Las Casas and Ferdinand repeat after 
him. At the time in question Columbus was only nine 
years old. He had neither overrun the seas as he boasted 
to have done, nor sailed for forty years, as he wrote in 
1 501 to the Catholic kings. Forty years earlier than 
1501 bring us to 1461, a date when Columbus was just 
ten years old. 

It was not, as his son Ferdinand and his panegyrist 
Las Casas affirm, aboard a vessel commanded by his relative 
Colombo that he first arrived in Portuguese waters. He 



arrived on board a Genoese vessel forming one of 
convoy going to Lisbon in 1476, which convoy was 
attacked by this very Colombo within sight of Cape St. 
Vincent This Colombo was neither his relative nor his 
countryman : he was a Frenchman, and the two Genoese 
ships which escaped his attack reached Lisbon in 
December of 1476. 

Contrary, therefore, to what many historians, blindly 
following Las Casas and Ferdinand Columbus, have said, 
it was not in 1470, as Humboldt, Washington Irving, Flake, 
and others think, nor in 1473 or 1474, as Harrisse, Winsi 
and Markham decide, that' he arrived in Portugal, bul 
towards the very end of 1476, when he was twenty-five 
years of age. It is untrue that Columbus left Portugal 
secretly because King Joao II wished to rob him of his 
secret, as Las Casas and Ferdinand Columbus allege. He 
fled the country because through family connections he 
belonged to the Braganza party which King Joao pursued 
with hatred, and because, therefore, his life was no loi 
safe in Portugal. 

It is untrue that this king wrote inviting him to retui 
to Portugal; the letter from this monarch in the archives 
of the Columbus family which Navarrete has copied was 
apocryphal : it can now no longer be found. It is untrue 
that Columbus made proposals to Genoa, to England, and 
to France. Beyond the assertion of the very persons who 
have dressed up the history of the discoverer in the fashion 
it has come down to us, not a vestige of proof or the most 
trifling trace exists of any such proposals having 






VII.— The Real Origin and Object of Columbus' 
Great Scheme. — With the exception of the circumstances 
attending the flight of Columbus from Portugal, circum- 
stances revealed by Sefior de La Rosa at a late Congress 
of the Americanists In Paris, and on which we are not 
yet sufficiently enlightened, all the assertions we have 
just made are definitely established, and no new investi- 
gation can shake them. Those which follow are not so 
certain ; they rest less on direct proofs than on logical 
deductions; but, venturesome though they be, there need 
be but little fear that later criticism will seriously affect 

The first point to which attention should be directed 
is that everything tends to show what has been described 
as the vocation of Columbus dates only from the confi- 
dence made him by the pilot who by accident had 
discovered, or thought he had discovered, unknown islands 
or lands, and who had convinced Columbus of the reality 
of his discovery. This is in truth the decisive event in 
the life of Columbus. From this moment he is seen putting 
everything in motion in order to obtain the means for 
setting out to take possession of the lands this pilot had 
beheld and which Columbus feels sure he can rediscover. 

If this supposition be well founded, Columbus, when 
he sailed from Palos in 1492, had no intention of open- 
ing a new route to the Indies and to the land of spices 
by crossing the Atlantic. His sole object was to go 
whither the pilot had been who had revealed to him his 
secret. Let it be noted that he does not appear to have 
proposed anything more to the Catholic kings ; for in the 
capitulations agreed between them and him — the authentic 


:xt of which capitulations we possess — there is no qui 
cither of the Indies or the land of spices, or of any country 
of the East, but solely of islands and lands he may dis- 
cover in the ocean, the government or vice-royalty of 
which islands and lands is reserved to him in case of suc- 
cess ; which could not have been the case if it had been a 
question of discovering a new route to populous islands 
belonging to civilised nations. We do not forget Columbus 
asserted he bore on his first voyage letters from the 
Catholic kings to the great Khan. This assertion, known 
to us only by Las Casas, is based solely on a statement 
by Columbus made long after the event, a statement, 
moreover, which is absolutely unsupported by a particle of 
proof. Columbus' Log-book says, indeed, it is to the Indies 
he sought to go, but then we only possess this document 
in the form Las Casas has given it to us, and it was 
Las Casas who imposed on posterity a belief in the 
apocryphal letters of Toscanelli. In support of our manner 
of looking at things, and recalling what has been previously 
said on this subject, we may assert that the road-map of 
Columbus was the one he had himself constructed from 
the data obtained from the pilot. This map indicated, 
as we have already shown, the position of the islands 
and lands this pilot had, or thought he had, discovered ; 
and further, we have shown that Columbus went directly 
to this point deviating neither to the right nor left 
for a single moment. We have also seen that once 
Columbus was convinced no land existed at the spot indi- 
cated he did not know which way to steer; that he 
frequently changed his course; and that finally he adopted 
one recommended by Pinzon — to whom no intention of 



going to the Indies can be attributed — and that it was 
purely by chance he discovered Guanahani. In this group 
of circumstances are we not supplied with sufficient 
motives for believing that it was only after sailing about 
the Antilles Columbus concluded he was among the 
islands off the far eastern coasts of Asia? 

VIII. — Pretended Scientific Preparation of 
Columbus. — Whether Columbus did or did not start on 
his voyage with the intention of going to the Indies, we 
must consider as absolutely disproved the assertion that 
he had for long prepared himself for his great discovery 
by the study of those authors who could enlighten him 
on this subject. These statements of Las Casas and Ferdi- 
nand Columbus are contradicted by Columbus' own 
writings and by his notes on the works he read, notes 
which reveal the fact that all his cosmographical theories 
were formulated subsequently to his discoveries. It was 
after his return from his first voyage, when it was said 
around him that he had had sure information, and that he 
had only gone whither he had been told he should find 
new lands, that it occurred to some to oppose to these 
rumours the legend of a long scientific preparation which 
had given him the conviction that the coasts of Asia might 
easily be reached by way of the west 

This story of the scientific preparation and the one 
dealing with the Toscanelli correspondence were invented 
for the purpose of creating the belief that, contrary to 
what was then asserted, it was a scientific theory approved 
and suggested by a great scholar that gave birth to the 
scheme of Columbus. When in the August of 1492 


Columbus set sail from Palos he had no such theory in 
his mind. 

IX.— The Documents attributed to Toscanelli.- 
The documents attributed to Toscanelli hold the first 
place in the romance about the scientific origin of the 
scheme of Columbus. We have already said that there 
is no proof Columbus himself had any part in the fabrica- 
tion of these documents, and it is without regret we find 
no trace of the hand of Columbus in the fraud the meshes 
of which we have sought to unravel in order to discover 
the motive for its perpetration. We believe not only 
that Columbus took no part in the fabrication of the 
apocryphal documents, but, furthermore, that he would 
allow no use to be made of the fraud. If still later 
researches should prove the contrary we shall have to 
bow to the evidence ; but until then we would fain preserve 
the belief that the discoverer of the New World did 
not stoop to the mean shifts with which, unfortunately, 
it would seem he can be associated ; and that the great 
character he so often displayed will not be tarnished by 
the production of that proof which up to the present 
is not forthcoming. As to Toscanelli, he is clearly foreign 
to all this intrigue, and, whatever may be the ultimate 
result of the investigation we have set on foot, his mora! 
worth will suffer no diminution. It will doubtless be 
found that he took no part in the discovery of America: 
but he has other claims to fame, and the revealing of the 
truth will not render him less worthy of the monuments 
raised to his memory or of the esteem of history. 




Having made these remarks, we would now submit to 
criticism the following conclusions, which we present with 
all diffidence, and giving to them no value beyond what 
they possess from their perfect concordance with the facts 
which have suggested them. However logical and con- 
vincing they may be, they cannot have other than a purely 
hypothetical character. 

Toscanelli, who died in 1482, never wrote cither to 
Martins or to Columbus. The documents given out to be 
his contain anachronisms and statements which reveal the 

Columbus has never made even the remotest allusion 
to these documents ; if he was aware of their existence he 
neither made use of them himself nor allowed others to do 
so. His own cosmographical notions are indeed those 
expressed therein ; but they were his own personal acquisi- 
tion, and we know how and when he obtained them : he 
formed them only after his discoveries, and they were chiefly 
suggested by the reading of Marco Polo, the Imago Mundi, 
and Ptolemy. It is not therefore with the object of hiding 
what he had learned from the letters that he does not 
mention them. It was the person who concocted the forged 
documents who introduced therein the notions of Columbus; 
for the very object of the forged letters was to create the 
belief Columbus had been enlightened and encouraged by 

The author of the so-called Toscanelli documents does 
not appear to have been Columbus, who would scarcely 
have forged them to hide them, for he has never mentioned 


them. The forgery was, moreover, useless, and might have 
been dangerous to him. Useless, because the story of the 
nameless pilot was bound to die out of itself, which is just 
what happened ; dangerous, because the letter to Martins 
lessened Columbus' part even more than did the story of 
the pilot, as by it all the honour and merit of the discovery 
could be assigned to Toscanelli — a fact some writers have 
not been slow to perceive and urge. Nor is the author 
of the forgery Ferdinand Columbus, because Las Casas does 
not tnention the documents as coming from him, although 
it was altogether in his interest to do so; the son of 
Columbus was too well read and too learned to write such 
a letter as the one to Martins ; and — for the same reason — 
Ferdinand could not have been guilty of the stupidity of 
miking Toscanelli write two letters to say exactly the 
name lliintt and in almost identical terms; and, finally, 
I" i ,iu ■ ■ iln Spanish translation of the letters given by Las 
Casus OOfltalni itiili'itrisms of which Ferdinand Columbus, a 
Spiiiiiiiril born and bred, was scarcely likely to have made use. 

I In i i i was, to all appearance, Bartholomew 
i nlumliii'., who WU o giKxl cosmographer, but a bad Latin 
■„l,,il,u , In- u.i'. ,»No vi'iv ik'vuted to his brother. The copy 
ioiit.ii on thfl volume of Pius 11 is in a hand as much 
roncmhllriK hi* «« it does his brother's. Like Christopher, 
hj, in.., hai aliio annotated the firntgo Mundi and the Historia 
Rtrum of I'lu* 11. 

I In- Invention of the story of Columbus' correspondence 
wilh r<>> .iiiilli dates probably from Bartholomew's arrival in 

Spajft, tlu- pa I when tl WM rumoured his brother had been 

hutnnttd by .i pUot! but the documents themselves were 
mily wiitU'ii fatftl Thus may be explained how Duke 



Hercules, in 1494, came to hear of a correspondence between 
Columbus and ToscanelH. 

These documents, composed on the opinions of Columbus, 
must have been fabricated after the discoverer's death: if 
they were anterior to that event they were zealously hidden. 
They were first produced between 1547 and 1552, the time 
when Las Casas, who is the first to record them, was revising 
his book, and was placed in possession of all the Columbus 
family papers. It was also the time when the story of the 
pilot who had instructed Columbus was revived by the 
publications of Oviedo and G<5mara. 

The person who gave them to Las Casas can only have 
been the same as placed him in possession of the Columbus 
family papers. At the period mentioned, Lufs Coldn, the 
third Admiral of the Indies, was sole proprietor of these 
papers. He was a reckless and unscrupulous person ; he 
busied himself preparing the publication of one of the 
manuscripts of Columbus, and he dabbled in the concoction 
of the Historic: he alone was then in possession of these 
documents, and he alone could then dispose of them. 

The so-called second letter of ToscanelH to Columbus is, 
in fact, nothing but a first draft of the one to Martins. This 
is proved not merely by the sameness of the ideas, but by 
the identity of the expressions. The author of the fraud 
clearly began by making ToscanelH correspond directly 
with Columbus; then he substituted for this latter the un- 
findable Martins. 

This letter must have been found among the family 
papers by Luis Col6n, who handed it to Las Casas, together 
with the final editing — the one to Martins. Doubtless it 
escaped his attention that the likeness between the two 


texts was an indication of the fraud. This letter, moreover, 
could not have been written after 1481, since Toscanelli 
died at the beginning of the following year. Now, at that 
date, Columbus could not speak of bis design as a settled 
tcheme ; it is even more than probable that at that moment 
he had no idea whatever of going to the Indies by the 

To sum up: these letters and map attributed to Tosca- 
tirlli, these documents which no one ever used, and which 
no one ever knew except he who produced them seventy 
year* after their inscribed date, have never served any other 
|uiiji.. ■ llian to create the impression that Columbus had 
a scientific idea, and that it was this idea which led him 
1.. In-. i;n',il iliM 1 ivory. 

\\ . 1 1 1 l 1 -t i,]i, .i;;.u:i that these conclusions are largely 
In I ■ il< tint, Some, such as the attribution of the fraud 
1. . 1 1,11 1 h. 4< mm Columbus, rest only on presumptions ; 
others, on the contrary, arc suggested by indications that 
MOW i" be clear enough to carry conviction. Among 
itii-. Mtmbw may be placed those which relieve Columbus 
from all material complicity in perpetrating a forgery which, 
. appear* to date after hts death, and from which, 
in un MM, he neither profited nor sought to profit As to 
ii.» 1 1 .m haoH) if it cannot be absolutely established, so 
1 ivibablc circumstances surround the production 
of tin- tKn n ini-iits, and so many different reasons tend to 
llm tliat they cannot be genuine, that it would appear to 

ix iiilWuh u> Ittntnta *ny doubt on this point It 
hj mmM| to say that the trickery, of which there are so 
many undoubted traces, i* not yet absolutely proved : but 
one umv no klAMf pietcnd that Ttwcanclh" has really 


corresponded with Martins and Columbus without being 
prepared to justify that assertion, and the real difficulties 
attending this enterprise will only appear when the attempt 
is made. 

If failure results from this task, one will be forced to 
admit that the old story of the pilot who gave information 
to Columbus becomes altogether probable; and one may 
put forward, without fearing the contempt of serious criticism, 
that the real initiator of the discovery of the New World may 
have been, not the celebrated astronomer, whose name fills 
volumes, and to whom statues have been raised, but the 
poor mariner who died in obscurity, without even leaving his 
name to posterity. 






i ■ 





25th June 1474. 

English Translation made from the photograph and the copy 
of the Latin text published in the Raccolta Cofombiana, accom- 
panied by critical, historical, and geographical Notes. 1 

Copy sent to Christopher Columbus* by Paul the 
Physician, 8 together with a Chart ok Navigation. 

To Ferdinand Martins, Canon of Lisbon, Paul the physician 
gives greeting. 

1 In this translation an effort has been made to render the exact 
meaning as well as the language of the document which is alleged to 
be a copy of the original. The variations occurring in the Italian 
version of the Historic and the Spanish translations of Las Casas and 
Barcia are given in 

1 The Latin text, which is supposed to be in the handwriting of 
Columbus himself, bears Christofaro Colonbo. It should be noticed, 
however, that the line wherein this name occurs, a line constituting 
the heading of the document, is in a more regular hand than the 
body of the letter itself, a fact which authorises the belief that it is 
not by the same writer who copied the whole text of the letter: 
furthermore, it has been observed that this line is squeezed into the 
upper part of the page, and this may be taken as evidence that it is 
a later addition. 

See above j note 157. 

' Phisicns— -physician.— -The Latin gives this title as Pktxkus; in 
a line below the word is written Phisicus. Both forms were permiss- 
ible, but it is unusual to find the same word spelt differently in the 
first three lines of a document. This is still further evidence that 
the title was not written by the same hand that wrote the letter. 


It was pleasing to me to have intelligence concerning your 
health, 4 and concerning your favour and familiar friendship with 
that most generous and magnificent prince, your King. Whereas 

The expression Pkisicui, literally translated by physician, had in 
the Fifteenth Century the meaning of doctor. We still keep this 
signification in English; but, as in the Middle Ages a doctor was also 
called Median, it has been asked whether Toscanelli was really a 
doctor {Bossi : Vita, note i of the Appendix). The fact is now well 
established : Toscanelli was a medical man, as were also his brother 
and his nephew Ludovico. He was doctor to his friend Cardinal 
Cusa, to the de' Medici, and to many others. But in his day medicine 
was somewhat mixed up with astrology, whereby were forecast births, 
events during life, and time and circumstances of deaths. Toscanelli, 
therefore, was also an astrologer, i.e., an astronomer, and Signor 
Uzielli informs us that astronomy, the practice of medicine, and his 
devotions occupied all his time. 

Neither Las Casas nor Ferdinand Columbus knew the name of 
Toscanelli. Ferdinand Columbus thus describes him : Mastro Paolo 
Jhico di mastro Domenuo Fiorentino {Master Paul, the physician, [son] 
of Master Dominic, a Florentine). On two different occasions Las 
Casas calls him Marco Polo (HistSria, vol. I., p. 96 and p. 360). 
But he adds : " Doctor of Florence," thus showing he did not confuse 
him with the celebrated traveller who died one hundred and fifty 
years before Toscanelli. Mariana also calls him Marcus Paulus in 
his Latin edition, and Marco Polo in his Spanish edition (Book XXVI.), 
Lelewel also designates him as Marc Paul, adding in parentheses 
(Toscanelli). The error deals therefore only with the name and not 
with any confusing of persons. Signor Uiielli thinks it arose from 
rendering M. Paulus — M, really standing for magisfcr or mastro, 
being translated by Marcus, Marco, and Marc. This seems to be 
evident. See on this subject Signor Uzielli's short memoir: Ricercke 
inlorno a Paolo daJ Pozzo Toscanelli, Ricerca I ;— Delia cenfusittne di 
nomi fra Marco Polo e Paolo Toscanelli (Bollet. della societa Geogr. 
Italiana, Maggio, 1873, Roma). 

* Or : " By what you tell me of your health it was pleasing to me," 
etc. The writer appears to allude to something contained in the 
letter to which he is supposed to be replying. It is strange that the 
Spanish text suppresses this portion of the sentence, and, consequently, 
it is also missing from the Italian version, which was evidently trans- 
lated from the Spanish ; for, if the translator had had the so-called 
Latin original before him, it is difficult to see why he should have 
left out these words. 


I have spoken with you elsewhere 6 concerning a shorter way 
of going by sea to the lands of spices, than that which you are 
making by Guinea; 7 the most serene King now wishes that I 

'Or: "I have already told you of," etc. In the Spanish U runs; "And 
though I have other ofttimes spoken of . . . " (y biSn que otras muchas 
veces tenga dicho . . . ). The Italian translator evidently strives to 
establish that personal relations existed between Toscanelli and 
Martins, for, towards the end of his version, he has interpolated a 
phrase to the effect that they had spoken face to face. 

Signor Uziclli thinks the intercourse between Toscanelli and 
Martins was both personal and epistolary (Toscanelli, No. I., p. 147). 
See Ximenes : Del Vecchio, note C, III. 

* The lands of spices. — In the Italian we have: to India. The 
Spanish version runs : to the Indies -where the spices grow. In the 
Fifteenth Century the East Indies were commonly known as the 
Indies of the Spices, a designation to be found as early as Marco 
Polo, who so describes them. 

Therefore, according to the author of this letter, the Portuguese 
thought of going to the spice -producing countries even earlier than 
1474, for in writing this letter he reminds Martins that he has 
previously discussed this question with him. It has already been 
observed that in 1474 the spice question did not exist in Portugal. 
(See First Part, chap, iii., g§ 1, 2, and 6, and also note 64). Ximenes, 
who was not well informed on the subject, thought, like the author of 
the letter, that as early as this the Portuguese had a commercial 
interest in seeking to obtain spices from the land of their production. 
He also gives some curious information on the Spice Trade of antiquity 
(Del vecchio e nuot'o Gnomone, etc., p. lxxxi.). 

7 By Guinea.— The Latin text has : quamfacitis per Guineam. The 
Spanish says : Which you take for Guinea (que vosotros kaceis para 
Guinea), which is not at all the same thing, and besides has no meaning. 
The Italian renders the passage : Which you make by Guinea (che -vei 
fate per Guinea), which is more correct, but yet does not give the 
full meaning of the phrase. Toscanelli, or whoever was the author of 
the letter, could not have intended to say in 1474 that the Portuguese 
went to the Indies by way of Guinea. What lie wished to say was 
that they sought to go by that route. It must therefore be rendered, 
"which you are making," or "which you are opening out by Guinea." 
Ximenes, who did not know the Latin text, was greatly puzzled by 
this phrase, which he seeks to explain by imagining the Portuguese had 
gone to the East Indies by the south-east route before Vasco da 
Gama's expedition, and that, fearing competition, they had jealously 
kept their voyages secret. Ximenes finds confirmation for this 


should give some explanation thereof, or rather that I should 
set it before the eyes of all, that even those who are but moder- 
ately learned 8 might perceive that way and understand it. 

But though I know 9 that this could be shown by the 
spherical form, which is that of the world ; nevertheless I have 
determined to show it in the way in which charts of navigation 
show it, and this both that it may be more readily understood, 
and that the work may be easier. 10 

Wherefore I send to His Majesty a chart, made by my hands, 
wherein your shores 11 are shown, and the islands from which 


singular hypothesis in an assertion of the account by the gentleman 
of Florence (Sernigi) given by Ramusio (vol. I., Second Edition, p. 130), 
that Vasco da Gatna discovered 13 leagues beyond the Cape of Good 
Hope. Vasco da Gama therefore, he cries, did not discover the Cape 
of Good Hope I {lac. cil., note iv.). The anachronism, incomprehensible 
to Ximenes, exists, but not where he thought it to be : it con: 
assigning to the Portuguese, in 1474, the intention of going 
East Indies. At that period they had no such idea : it was for the 
India of Prester John they sought. (See for the proof of this state- 
ment the text above), 

8 In both the Spanish and Italian versions this clause is sup- 
pressed. Here, again, if the Italian translator had the Latin text 
before him, it is strange that the fancy should have occurred to him 
to make exactly the same suppression as the Spanish translator had 
also made. 

* The Spanish here adds : de mi, which may fairly be rendered 
"of my knowledge" or "by experience." 

10 Mr Harrisse thus translates this passage: "so as to be better 
understood and to facilitate the enterprise" {The Discovery, p. 381). 
Doubtless he was thinking that Toscanelli had in view the voyage 
about which he was being consulted. A comparison of the three texts 
Latin, Spanish, and Italian, does not substantiate this rendering. 

u Your shores.— By this expression must be understood the * 
shores of Portugal and Africa, re-discovered and explored by the Por- 
tuguese who claimed them as their own, a claim which the Popes had 
admitted. The following phrase, which is found in the Spanish text 
in place of these two words: "all the extremity of the west starting 
from Ireland southwards to the end of Guinea," shows that it was in 
this sense the first translator understood them. No other meaning 
can be given to them. It should be observed that the Italian trans- 
lator, if he knew the Latin text, puts it aside and renders, word for 
ord, the Spanish version. 





you may begin n to make a voyage continually westwards, 1 ' and 
the places 11 whereunto you ought to come, and how much you 

11 This evidently refers to the Canaries. No other isles exist from 
which a long voyage could be undertaken in that neighbourhood, 
either southward or westward, and in fact it was from the Canaries 
the Portuguese navigators who sailed from Lagos, below Cape St 
Vincent, to go to Guinea took their course. Toscanelli, if it were he 
who wrote this letter, would appear to have known this fact. 

" Westwards.— According to the Latin text the course to take for 
the Indies was not, as some have thought, the parallel of Lisbon, but 
that of the Canaries, which was indeed the parallel Columbus took. 

The Spanish version, and, following it, the Italian, alter completely 
this passage. Instead of saying that the chart denotes " your shores 
and the islands from which you may begin to make a voyage con- 
tinually westwards " (in qua dtsignantur lilora -vestra tt insult ex 
quibus ineipiatis iter facerc versus occasum semper), it says it shows 
"all the extremity of the west, starting from Ireland southwards to 
the end of Guinea, with all the islands that are on this route, opposite 
which [islands] due west is the beginning of the Indies." 

Here we are faced by an alteration of the Latin text sinning at 
once both by omission and commission. The very important informa- 
tion that one must start from the islands and voyage continually west- 
wards is suppressed, and is replaced by the statement that opposite 
these islands, at the end of the journey, will be found the beginning 
of the Indies, a fact not mentioned in the Latin text. This variation, 
which is clearly the work of the Spanish translator, is difficult to 
explain. Did this translator work on a Latin text different to the one 
we possess, or did he, as Mr Harrisse supposes, add to his version 
information obtained from the chart which accompanied the letter? 
Either hypothesis is plausible ; but yet a third remains which is equally 
so. If the unknown author of the Spanish version were also the 
author of the Latin text, which we have very many reasons to believe 
is apocryphal, he might well have introduced into it changes he 
thought advisable for his purpose, and all the more easily since the 
Latin text was unknown, so unknown or concealed in fact that the 
author of its translation in the Historie was unable to obtain a sight 
of it, and it was only centuries afterwards, and then by mere chance, 
that it was brought to light. This supposition is clearly somewhat 
venturesome, and, in order to entertain it, we must not forget the 
reasons which give rise to a belief that neither the letter to Martins 
nor the famous chart which accompanied it came from Toscanelli. 
Anyhow it is the Latin text which here conveys the thought of 
the author of the letter. 

14 The Spanish adds : " with the islands." The Italian copies 
the addition. 

; are taken for 
. supposed that 


But I have marked in the chart divers places where you 
might arrive, 19 and this indeed for the better information of 

parallels and ihe second to meridians. This is Signor Usielli's view. 
He says: "Toscanelli means by transverse lines the arcs of meridians 
denoted by straight lines drawn on the maps perpendicularly to Ihe 
straight lines representing the parallels" (Toscanelli, No. 1., p. 12). 
This opinion would appear to be justified by the phrase of the author 
of the letter saying that the straight lines are drawn lengthwise in 
the chart ; but this ambiguous phrase loses all value before the very 
clear expression which follows, i.e., that the straight lines show the 
distance from east to west and the transverse lines the distance from 
north to south. If the straight lines were parallels they could not 
indicate the distance from east to west, and if the transverse lines 
were meridians, they would show nothing relative to the distances 
between north and south. When the straight line 
parallels and the transverse lines for meridians it i 
the so-called Toscanelli chart was orientated in like 
modern map, and that the north was placed at the top. But in the 
Middle Ages there was no fixed rule for this, and generally it was 
the east which occupied the upper portion of the map, so that the 
west filled the lower part, the north lay to the left, and the south to 
the right. The famous Bianco map, 1436, wherein the island of 
Antilia holds a striking place, is arranged after this fashion, as are 
also the world map of Vesconti, 1320, and the well-known map of 
Marino Sanudo, given by Bongars, wherein the legends point out the four 
cardinal points : at the top we read Oriens and at the bottom Occidens. 
If the chart under discussion were similarly constructed, i.e., if the 
north lay to the left and the south to the right, then the straight lines, 
drawn in a longitudinal direction, would truly represent distances 
east and west, while the others, running crosswise on the chart, would 
really indicate the spaces contained between north and south. 

Hermann Wagner, who is so competent in such matters, understood 
these two expressions as we do, and so does Mr Harrisse, for he trans- 
lates the Latin phrase as follows : "The longitudinal lines . . . traced 
on the map show the distance from east to west, the horizontal ones 
show the distance from south to north" {The Discovery, p. 382). We 
may add that, in the opinion of Wagner, the Latin expression of lines 
recta meant in the Middle Ages straight as well as perpendicular lines. 

Whatever may have been the orientation of this map, we take it 
as established that its author meant by slraight lines, lines which would 
be perpendicular on our maps, i.e., meridians, and by transverse lines 
those which run crosswise in our maps, and, in fact, correspond with 
our parallels. 

10 The Spanish says : " Many places in the extent of India." This 
the Italian version repeats. 


navigators if they should come by the winds or by some char 
where they did not think to come : but this is partly in order 
that they may show the inhabitants that they have some know- 
ledge of that country — which will surely be no little pleasure to 
them. 10 

It is said only merchants stay in these islands; for here there 
is so great an abundance of men sailing with merchandise, thai 
in all the rest of the world 41 they are not as they are in a mot 
noble port called Zaiton, 23 for they say that every year a 

" Id the Spanish and Italian this phrase bears quite a different 
meaning. The first runs: "And also in order that all these pans 
may be well known, whereof you should much delight." The Italian 
has: "And furthermore lo give you full information of all these 
places which you greatly desire to know." This passage is not ve ry 
clear in the Latin. 

11 The Italian version puts : " As in all the other parts of the world.* 

a Zai/on. — Zaitem (Marco Polo, Paris Geo. Soc. edit), Carton 
(Ed. Pauthier), Zayton (Yule and Cordier). It is now Chang Chau 
(Phillips, Cordier), an important city of the Fo-Kien Province, in latitude 
24° 30' north, and longitude 1 17° 40' east. Klaproth, Yule, Pauthier, anil 
some others have preferred to recognise Zaiton in Tsuen Chau, and 
it is under the French form of that name, Tsiouen-Tcheou, that it 
will be found in Vivien de Saint-Martin's great dictionary. M. Cordier 
had also been of this opinion, which he has maintained in a long 
note to his edition of Odoric of Pordenone, pp. 268-281. But sina 
then be has returned to the subject and has recognised that Zaiton 
must be identified with Chang Chau {L'Exhlmt Orient dams I'atlti 
Catalan, Paris, 189;, pp. 32-33). 

According to the Chinese Imperial Geography this name 
from a tree with oily berries called Tilling, which was planted a 
the town. Thung-Chiog means the City of Thung or Trees (Pauthier, 
p. 528, note). Arab authors merely translated this when calling the 
place Zaitoun. All that the letter to Martins says concerning this 
city comes from Marco Polo (chap, clvi., Pauthier's edition, p. 5; 
Book II., chap, lxxxii., Yule's edition, vol. II., p. 2t8), who has r 
exaggerated its importance in his time. Ibn Batoutah, who visiiw 
it, about the same time, also refers to the great commercial activity 
of its port ( Voyages d'Ibn Balautah, Paris, 4 vols, in 4", vol. IV., f- 
269). Odoric who went there much later (about 1325) speaks of « 
in the same way {Odoric, Cordier's edition, pp. 263-265). Conti, whose 
journey dates at the beginning of the Fifteenth Century, and wlw 
went through Zaiton, does not speak of it, showing thereby t 



hundred large ships of pepper are brought into that port, with- 
out (counting) other ships bearing other spices. That country 
is very populous, and very rich, with a multitude of provinces 
and kingdoms and cities without number, under one prince who 
is called the Great Kan (sic), 13 which name in Latin means rex 

that date it had already lost its former importance (Major's edition of 
India in the Fifteenth Century, p. 15). Xlmenes devotes to this city 
a long note which is now without interest {Del Vecchio, note G, viii.). 

83 Great Kaan, — The Great Kaan, says Marco Polo, was the Lord of 
all the Tartars (Yule's edition, vol. I., p. ro ; Pauthier's edition, pp. 9 and 
185), and the information he fives on several occasions shows indeed 
that this potentate had a great number of princes subject to him. Conti 
says that "Emperor" is the equivalent of his title (Major's edition, p. 14)- 

A distinction must be drawn between Khan and Kaan, as Marco Polo 
writes. Khan, sometimes written Han, is a Turco-Tatar (Mongol) term, 
meaning chieftain, prince, or ruler. The Mongols gave it a wide extension, 
and in the course of time, particularly in Persia and the countries of Asia, 
it lost its original signification and came to denote merely a lord. (Lacou- 
perie — Khan, Khahan and ot/ter Tartar titles, London : Babylonian and 
Oriental Records, December, 1888, in 8°, p. 2). Khahan or Khagan, com- 
posed of Kha, which means first, great, powerful, and of Khan or Matt, 
meaning prince or sovereign, is equivalent to Great Khan or Great Prince. 
It is the title of supreme sovereignty among the Tatars, and has been in 
use from the Sixth Century {ibid., p. 4). Jenghis Kan means very power- 
ful Khan {ibid., p. 6). 

Ogotal, Jenghis' successor, elected in 1229, took the title of Kaan. 
Mangu, elected in 1251, and Kublai, in 1358, preserved it: Kublai, 
who conquered China and founded the Yuen Dynasty, made it the 
title of the Mongol sovereigns of China {ibid., p. 10). On the fall of 
the Mongol power and the accession of the Mings the title of Kaan 
lost some of its prestige, and it ceased to have any at all when the 
Manchus, who now rule in China, overthrew the Mings in 1634 and 
completed the destruction of the Mongols. (See also on these titles : 
Yule, The Booh of ser Marco Polo, 1875, vol. I., p. 9, note). 

In his notes written on his copy of Marco Polo, Columbus underlines 
the words Gran Kaan (No. 11 of the Scritti in the Raccoltd). The 
discoverer of America appears to have been wonder-struck by what 
he read of the power of this potentate, and he annotates or underlines 
all he finds on this subject, not only in Marco Polo, but also in Pius 
Historia Rerum, wherein he marks eight references of this 

character (No; 

Scritti), and in the Imago 1 


1 Muntli, 
(Nos. 167 and 782 of the Scritti). 

344, and 376 of the 
: he underlines two others 




aaae sent and residence are chiefly in 

Hi ancestors desired to have fellow- 

F.i; -.: is now two hundred years since 

far several men learned in the 

be enlightened. But those who 

tiered on their journey. In the 

ot (ftyr) a^aoronr .» also, one came to Eugenius and spoke 

m«i front (MdNrei toanrcb Christians. And I held speech 

ham far • kaa> tiaae on anaiiy things, on the greatness of 

loyal KiiKifi. and on the greatness of the rivers of 

xfciMB WwjtJ fc h and kaajth.* and oa the multitude of cities 

tbt Wanes of the imn ; and now on one river there are 

s, and marble bridges of 

i Marco Polo (Yule, 
I t^e passage, and in his 
; his intention of 

* Tin oteea of a 
o* I., n. JH* Oihnahaa has i 

rwac M Cathay. Sot Farst Fan, a 

* This w*» A* Eaanaxqr Kahbi Khan sent in 1x67 with Nicolo 
and M^ tVk\ the iataar uri ancst <rf Marco Polo. The ambassa- 
dor, whose name was g nnfat a t. Ml 91 oa (be journey and returned 
noam. TW Fotoi proceed e d ana l eached Venice in 1269: but the 
Hohr Sot w«s vacant, na s occe sao r having yet been chosen to Pope 
C aanaat IV, who had died in taoS. The Polos, weary of waiting for 
a aew Pop* to h» otectrd, set oat again far the east accompanied by 
Marcs in H71. rtosriog oa the way of the election of Gregory X, 
they returned one* oh* and were able to accomplish their mission 
(Vote, vol I, o. 1 j ; Paaahkr, p. ts.) See abo Yule's fmtrodictum, 
pp. 15-to. Cohanba* annotates the passage (Scrim; No. ts) which 
appears to hate paiticoteriy struck him, far he recalls the fact on 
two several occasions in the aatroatecnoa to bis Zfan* (Marfcham, p. 
16) and in hb letter of the 7th Jab/ {Serial, eoL II., p. 303, and Major's 
iUa-Z/WMnet, p. socj. 

■ Eogenius is named twice in the same phrase without any 
farther qualification; the Spanish adds. "F^i* EmgemtK and the 
Italian says, "An**" iagwaw "/K" Thb Pope was in fact Tos- 
canelli's contemporary, and occupied the Holy See from 1431 to 

■ Between this phrase and the following the Italian inserts : "and 
he lold me many wondrous things c 


great breadth and length adorned with columns on every side. 38 

M The Ambassador who is alleged to have informed Toscanelli, — 
This passage has greatly troubled the critics. For, indeed, no other 
oriental embassy to Pope Eugenius IV is known than that of the 
Copts of Ethiopia (Abyssinia), whose sovereign was then held to be 
Prester John, and whose rule was still placed in India by common 
report. This embassy, of which the two principal personages were 
Andrea d'Elhiopia and Alberto de Sarteano, consisted of about forty 
individuals. The celebrated Florentine historian, Scipionc Ammirato, 
who died in tool, says It was sent by John, or Ciriacus, King of 
the Ethiopians, commonly called Prcle Janni {Istorie, Florence, 1828, 
vol. VII., p. 324). Baronius, who fixes the arrival of these ambassadors 
at Rome on the 9th October 1441, also says they were sent by 
Prester John, who is, he adds, Lord of India (/'/ quale t signore 
d'India — Annates, vol. XXVIII., p. 366). They repaired to Florence, 
where the Council was being held for the reunion of the Eastern to 
the Western Church, in February 1442 {ibid.), and from Landino we 
know that Toscanelli industriously questioned them {Georgiton, Lan- 
dinus edit., Venice, 1520, p. 48). But, unless we suppose he put into 
their mouth language they could not have used, it was not these 
Copts who spoke to him of vast rivers, on the banks of which rose 
two hundred magnificent cities, and whose waters flowed beneath 
marble bridges. 

-Ximenes, who felt the full force of this objection, imagines the 
ambassador mentioned by Toscanelli was Nicolft di Conti, who 
arrived at Florence in 1444 after travelling for twenty-five years 
through the countries of the Far East (Ximenes, Del Vecchio , . . 
note K, x.) The father and uncle of Marco Polo had formerly been 
entrusted with a sort of diplomatic mission to the Pope by the Great 
Khan ; it was easy to suppose that Conti had been similarly com- 
missioned. But, besides the fact that in Conti's day there was no 
longer a Great Khan in China, Nicolo returned to Italy definitely, 
and had no intention of going back to the East like the Polos ; more- 
over, during his travels, he had been compelled to deny the faith, 
and this fact was not calculated to place him as a persona grata in 
the esteem of the Holy Father. We need not, therefore, linger over 
this hypothesis, which Humboldt, moreover, has shown to be unten- 
able {Examen critique, vol. I., pp. 220-223). 

If no other explanation of this passage ir 
suggested, we should be entitled to see in 
letter is apocryphal. But in the Portuguese \ 
tive, published at Lisbon in 1502 by Valentin Ferniindez, ; 
of his Marco Polo, as also in the Latin text publish 
Oliva in Paris in 1723, a passage is found, which 

1474 letter could be 
: another proof that this 
1 of Conti's Narra- 


This country is worthy of being sought by the Latins,** not 
only because from thence may be obtained vast gains of gold 
and silver and gems of every kind, and of spices that are never 

ecived but scant attention, which possibly gives the key to this 
difficulty. In this passage Poggio, the author of Conn's 
says that while preparing this work there Arrived at Florence another 
personage, coming from "Upper India which is towards the north,' 
who alleged he was sent to the Holy Father to obtain ;..■ 
on Western matters, and who spoke of a Christian kingdom in tht 
neighbourhood of Catayo and under the dominion of the Crwi 
Khan (Valentin's Marco Polo, fol. xciii., verso, p. 33, :. 
English version of Conti, Hakluyt Society). May not this hart 
been the ambassador who gave the details mentioned in the 1474 
letter? This would seem extremely probable, and there could bt 
no hesitation in affirming the fact were we not stopped by the diffi- 
culty that at this period China had long ceased to be governed by 
a Great Khan. 1'erhaps this might be explained by supposing 
that this person from the East may never have mentioned the Greu 
Khan, but gave the monarch of whom he was speaking his proper 
title, and Poggio, who had the Western idea that the greatest poten- 
tate of the East was then as formerly the Great Khan, may haw 
himself employed this expression as best conveying his meaning to 
his readers. It is very usual for a name or a title thus to linger on, 
e.g., the Westerns for ages called the ruler of Abyssinia Prrstrr 
John ; the Easterns to this day speak of Europeans as the Franks. 
Poggio's informant may have spoken of the reigning Ming, and the 
Christian kingdom may have been Fo-kien or some other province 
of China where Christians had lingered from the days of Marco Polo: 
the Viceroy or ruler, having possibly a religious tendency and beet 
desirous of hearing more about Christian philosophy, may have do- 
patched this messenger to Europe. But if this accounts for Poggiirt 
error it does not explain how Toscanelli, who is supposed to hate 
conversed with that ambassador, derived from him that he *» 
speaking of China, that China was still ruled by a Great Kbaa. 
and that the cities called by Marco Polo Quinsay and Zaiton wt 
still known by those names. It is plain that the author of the IcUtf 
borrowed his information from Poggio without perceiving his error, 
and without noticing that the ambassador in question appears to U 
speaking not of China but of a kingdom twenty days' journey frc*» 

v Here a slight variation occurs in the old translations. Tin 
Spanish runs: "this land is as worthy as ever [can be] of beinj 
discovered ;" the Italian has : "this country is as worthy as any other 
of being discovered." 


brought to us ; but also because of the wise men, learned philo- 
sophers and astrologers, by whose genius and arts that mighty 
and magnificent province is governed, and wars are also waged. 
These things {I write) to give some little satisfaction to your 
demand, in so far as the shortness of the time allowed, and my 
occupations suffered ; being ready to satisfy your Royai Majesty 
in the future as much further as may be desired. Given at 
Florence, 25th June 1474.*° 

From the city of Lisbon in a direct line to the westward, 11 

30 The Post-Scriptum. — This line and the whole of the preceding 
paragraph are, in the Spanish and Italian versions, transposed to the 
end of the letter, so that the following paragraph, which in the Latin 
is a postscript, forms part of the body of the letter in these two 
ancient versions. It has been asked whether this postscript did really 
belong to the letter to Martins, or whether Toscanelli did not add it 
to the copy of this letter he is supposed to have sent to Columbus 
(Fiske, The Discovery of America, vol. I., p. 360). But, seeing 
that the copyist of this letter has in his transcription of it suppressed 
the few covering lines to Columbus, it is not easy to perceive why 
he should have preserved this postscript if it also was solely meant 
for Columbus. The first Spanish translator of the letter, who must 
have known whence it came, considered that this paragraph, which 
constitutes, moreover, the essential portion of the letter to Martins, 
was also intended for him, inasmuch as he has not treated it differ- 
ently to the rest of the document. 

M. Sumien, in a note he sent me on this subject, puts forward 
another hypothesis. He thinks all this paragraph has been borrowed 
from the legends or notes inscribed on the map which accompanied 
the letter to Martins. His theory is that these legends throwing 
great light on the scheme recommended by the letter, the copyist of 
the Latin text did not wish to omit them, and therefore incorporated 
them with his copy, the only one we possess, without any regard to 
the fact that there they were altogether out of place. But this in- 
genious hypothesis is only acceptable on the supposition that primarily 
the authenticity of the letter and map in question is admitted, against 
which admission have been raised very serious difficulties. In short, 
it is a hypothesis grafted upon another hypothesis. 

31 Per occidentem in directo evidently means in a direct line to 
the westward. But the writer of the letter does not here indicate 
the route to be taken for the projected crossing ; he merely gives the 
direct distance between Lisbon and Quinsay. The route to be followed, 
in order to make the crossing, is shown at tlie beginning of the letter in 


onto the most noble and vexy great city of Ouinsay, there are 
26 spaces marked in the chart, each one of them containing 250 
».** For it (the aforementioned city) is a hundred miles 
round 11 and has ten bridges,** and its name means cita del cith 
(nej,* City of Heaven, and many wondrous things are told of it, 

the passage elucidated in note 13. All those who, like Humboldt (Cosmos, 
vol II-, pp. 317-318), were not acquainted with the Latin text, and those 
who have not referred to it, have imagined that the route recommended 
by Toscanelli was that of the parallel of Lisbon. 

M The three texts, Latin. Italian, and Spanish, are here in complete 
accord. But Barcia, who translated die Italian text into Spanish before 
the discovery of the Latin text, alters the 150 miles into 150 miles, and 
Navarrete, who reproduced Earcia's version in his collection of Viages, 
maintains this alteration. Yet Barcia and Navarrete were learned men 
well versed in their subject, and the latter undoubtedly was acquainted 
with the Spanish translation of Las Casas, in the MS. of his then yet 
unpublished //is/aria, a translation which, on this point, is on all foure 
with the Latin. If therefore they made this change it was no doubt 
because they thought the version in the HistorU was faulty at least in 
this passage. But why they should have thought so is a mystery that 
is left unexplained, and is very difficult of explanation. Humboldt, who 
knew neither the Latin text nor the text of the Historic which he had not 
succeeded in procuring (Examtn critique, vol. L, pp. 209 and 237}, thought 
the figure 150 miles was exact, and devoted himself to a laborious critical 
argument 00 the subject, all his conclusions thereon naturally being 
erroneous {lac. cil., I., pp. 234 and 289). 

a The Spanish and Italian versions add, the one: which are 35 
leagues, the other: which make 35 leagues. The figure 3 of the 
Italian text is evidently a printer's error, for 100 Italian miles certainly 
make 2} leagues. Humboldt says that the circumference of too miles given 
to Quinsay is borrowed from Conti (Joe. cil., vol. L, p. 2t6), but in this 
he is mistaken. It is Marco Polo who gives Quinsay a circumference 
of 100 miles (Yule's edition, vol. II., p. 169. Yule writes the name: 
Kinsay). Conti only assigns 30 miles to Quinsay {Major's edition, 


* The Spanish version adds : of marble ; this the Italian repeats. 
Marco Polo says 12,000 bridges {loc, cit.\ Odoric says the same thing. 
Conti makes no reference to bridges. The reduction of Marco Polo's 
12,000 bridges to only to is clearly an error on the part of the copyist, 
for all the other details recorded about Quinsay in this letter come 
from Marco Polo. 

96 "The most noble city of Kinsay," a name which is as much as to 
say in our tongue, "The City of Heaven " (Yule's Marco Polo, vol. II., p. 


of the multitude of its works M and its resources. This space is 
almost a third part of the whole sphere." This city is in the 

169). On the copy he possessed of the Latin edition of Marco Polo 
Columbus notes this detail in the margin, as also the references to the 
circuit of the town and its bridges. See notes 238 and 240 reproduced in 
the Raceolta, volume Scritti di Colombo. The Marco Polo, annotated by 
Columbus, belongs to the first Latin edition printed at Antwerp about 
148S (Brunei). Qui n say comes from King-sse, which means in Chinese 
"capital." It is the present Hang-Chau (V. de Saint- Martin). 

M Instead of "works" one might substitute "art treasures," the Latin 
depression bearing this rendering ; but the mention of resources immedi- 
ately afterwards suggest rather works in the sense of factories or industrial 
establishments. The first Spanish translator so understood the word and 
translates it by " artificios " ; the Italian translator is still further precise 
by saying "fahricAe." 

31 A third part of the -whole sphere, — Here undoubtedly we have a 
transposition. This phrase, which is meaningless here, finds its logical 
place after the description of Cipangu and the phrase : " Thus by the un- 
known ways," etc. It is not the province of Quinsay that forms a third 
part of the whole sphere, but the maritime space which separates 
the two extremities of the globe. 

It is not devoid of interest to remark here that this phrase, which in 
two lines sums up the whole cosmographical system on which Columbus 
based the opinion that by taking to the west one should reach the 
eastern shores of Asia, merely renders the particular views of Marinus 
of Tyre on the wide extention eastward of the Asiatic Continent. It 
has been shown in the First Part, chap, iv., § 4, that in its essential points 
the map which accompanied the letter to Martins was nothing more than 
a reduction to a graphic form of the notions of Marinus of Tyre. But, 
and this is curious to observe, while the author of the letter does not 
name this cosmographer, and even appears to be drawing from his 
own knowledge all that he says, Columbus himself knew him well, 
and in no way hesitates to attribute to him all the opinions contained 
in the letter to Martins. Las Casas in chapter v. of his First Book, 
which forms chapter vi. of the Hhtorie of Ferdinand Columbus, a 
chapter written in order to give the scientific reasons which fixed 
Columbus' resolution, develops the two fundamental arguments of his 
system, namely : the sphericity of the earth, whence arises the possibility 
to circumnavigate it, and the smallness of the space yet remaining to 
accomplish this periplus. Columbus, says Las Casas, knew that the 
space separating the end of Asia from the Cape de Verde Islands could not 
be more than the third of the sphere, because Marinus (of Tyre) had 
already described the countries of the East which extend to the fifteenth 
hour of the twenty-four hours of the globe's daily rotation. Further on 
Las Casas, who is still explaining Columbus' views, says that the 


province of Mangi, 88 that is to say, nigh unto the province t 
Katay, 39 wherein is the royal residence of the country. But from 
the island of Antilia, 40 which is known to you, unto the most 

Discoverer thought Marin us may not have known the farthest 
extremity of the Eastern Continent, and that it was reasonable to 
suppose this extremity would be found even stil! further eastward, a 
fact which consequently must bring it so much the nearer to our west 
(Las Casas, Histdria, Book i., chap, v., vol. I., p. ;6. In the HislorU, 
all the beginning of chapter vi.). Thus Columbus knew Marinus of 
Tyre, from whom Toscanelli, or whoever was the author of the letter 
to Marlins, had borrowed his figures — the only thing of some interest 
in the letter — on the distance he must cross in order to reach the 
coasts of Asia by sailing to the west. (See on this point § 4 of chapter 
iv. of the First Vart, and § 1 1 of chapter i. of the Second Part.) 

M Mangi or Mangy (Pauthier) or Mali (Yule). This is Southern 
China. It contained, says Marco Polo, nine kingdoms, of which 
Quinsay was one (Yule's edition, vol. II., p. 169). It is from Marco 
Polo that we gel the division of China into Cathay or Northern China 
and Mangi or Southern China. This last name is a corruption of that 
of Man-Tseu : the barbarians ; a name the Northern Chinese gave to 
those of the South. M. Cordier has quoted a great number of tews 
which establish this derivation {Odoric, p. 248, note 2). On his fourth 
voyage Columbus fancied he had reached that part of China : " On the 
13th of May I reached the province of Mayo, which is contiguous to that 
of Cathay" (Letter of 7th July 1503, Major's edition, p. 194). 

* The Spanish version says "city of Cathay." The Italian version 
restores the word province. 

*° /JaA'/w.— The Latin text says simply ; which is known to you 
{vobis no/a). The Spanish version turns this into : " that which you 
call Seven Cities— whereof we have information " {que -uosotros llamais 
d* Siele Ciudades, de la cual tenemos noHcia). The Italian version 
maintains the interpolation, but comes closer to the Latin text by 
saying: "which you call of the Seven Cities, of which you have in- 
formation" {Che vol ckiamate di sette cittA, del/a quale havcte noticia), 
Barcia suppresses the phrase. 

Thus Toscanelli is supposed to have known and to have written 
that the Portuguese were acquainted with the island of Antilia, and 
his Spanish translator takes it on himself to define and round off this 
assertion by making the learned Florentine say that diese same 
Portuguese gave to the island a particular name ! How came Tos- 
canelli, who had never travelled, and whose whole time was taken up 
in the practice of his art and in exercises of devotion, to be acquainted 
wilh these things peculiar to the Portuguese? No effort is made to 
explain this difficulty; but it is curious to notice that Columbus knew 



noble island of Cippangu 41 there are 10 spaces. 43 For that 
island is most fertile in gold and in pearls and gems, and they 
cover the temples and the royal houses with solid gold. Thus 
by the unknown ways there are not great spaces of the sea to 
be passed." Many things perchance ought to be explained more 

the fact referred to, for Las Casas tells us he learned from the 
Admiral's own writings that ancient sea-charts placed Antilia more 
than 200 leagues west of the Canaries and Azores, and that the Portu- 
guese identified this island with the isle of the Seven Cities (His- 
tiria. Book I., chap, xiii., vol. I., p. 99). 

u Sypangu — is the orthography of Pauthier J s Marco Potoj Yule 
gives Chipangu : both are corruptions of the Chinese name for Japan, 
— J'-pcn-koue or Zki-pan-kwc — i.e., Kingdom of the Rising Sun. 
The Japanese themselves so call their country, but write and pro- 
nounce the name differently. In the first two syllables we find a 
variant of Nipon or Niphon, still the name of the largest island of 
the Japanese Archipelago. See Pauthier's Marco Polo, p. 537, note I, 
and Yule's edition, vol. II., p. 238. "Sypangu, says Marco Polo, is 
an island in the East in the high sea distant one thousand five hun- 
dred miles from the Continent ; and it is a very great island " 
(Pauthier's edition, chap, dviii., p. 537). This information, together 
with the details Marco Polo gives of Kublai Khan's expedition 
against it, and the etymology of its name, leaves no doubt the refer- 
ence is to Japan. This identification, so transparent in itself, has 
nevertheless been contested, very curious things having been said on the 
subject, but when closely investigated they are found to be without 
consistency. See Mr George Collingridge's Memoir: Tht Early Carto- 
graphy of Japan in the Ceograpfdcal Journal for May 1894. In 
the September number of the same journal will be found a note from 
Mr Kramp and [a letter from Mr Yule, Oldham, refuting this 

Ximenes believes the information contained in the letter to 
Martins, joined with that given by Marco Polo and Conti, led the 
Portuguese to the discovery of Japan in 1542. "Toscanelli," he 
adds, " would thus have contributed not only to the discovery of 
America, but also to that of Japan" {tec. cit., note Y, xxii.). This 
assertion is absolutely baseless ; the Portuguese, lite the rest of the 
world, first knew of the so-called Toscanelli letter when it was 
published in the Historic, in 1571. 

41 The Spanish and Italian versions add: "which make 2500 
miles, or 225 leagues." Here again we must suppose the copyist 
made a slip, and read 625 leagues, which make 2500 miles. 

° The Spanish tern thus renders this passage: "Thus the route 
being unknown, all these things are hidden, and one may go thither 

It Mat* (ten* fart 

! W the N- 


, be that conadereth diligently will 

Farewell, beloved. 

the im, This translation so differs 
i jfca- ne can scarcely credit it was 

fied in the Spanish and Italian 
.; 'Vtmt •*« *«f* BWffct he said, bet as I have already 
«* jam kf **** *f nwrnsh and you are of excellent thoughi- 
I tMw «M thaw it Baact* left far too to understand, and 
Hth 1 a^HMi a* aaore." That fallows the paragraph 
Lad aaay this Satxdjf jww demands,' to which refer- 




Latin Text from the Colombina, with a corrected Text in parallel 
columns, and a Philological Commentary thereon by M. Norbert 
Sumien translated into English. 

It suffices merely to cast a glance over the text of the letter 
to Martins, such as we possess it, to see that it is faulty. Either 
he who wrote it was ill acquainted with Latin, or the transcriber 
has strangely disfigured it. We shall not seek to assign respon- 
sibility for the faults and errors we are about to point out, for we 
make no pretence here to restore the original text. In order 
effectively to carry out such a work it would be absolutely neces- 
sary to possess some Latin writing by Toscanelli in order to 
serve as a standard of comparison ; but, notwithstanding careful 
research, we have failed to find any letter or work in our public 
libraries that comes from the pen of the learned Florentine. 
We shall therefore content ourselves with correcting the text, 
clearing it of the ambiguous expressions and solecisms which dis- 
figure and obscure it, without specially occupying ourselves with 
whether they come from the author or the copyist. It was to 
be feared that this letter might issue transformed by a too scrupu- 
lous work of correction ; we have therefore closed our eyes to 
certain instances of slovenliness of style, and of certain outlandish 
expressions, the suppression of which would have made the letter 
lose some special characteristic without thereby rendering clearer 


Colombina Text. 

potius ad occulurn ostensionem 
vt etiam mediocriter doli illam 
viam caperent et intelligerent.* 

Ego autem quamvis cognos- 
cam posse hoc ostendi per for- 
mam spericam vt est mundus 
tamen determinaui pro faciliori 
intelligencia ac etiam pro 
faciliori opere ostendere viam 
illam 5 per quam carle nauiga- 
cionis fiunt illud declarare. 

Mi to ergo sue Majestati 
cartam manibus meis factam in 
qua designantur litora vestra 
et insule ex quibus incipiatis" 
iterfacere versus occasum senper 
et loca ad que debeatis per- 
venire et quantum a polo vel 

Corrected Text. 

potius ad oculum ostensionem, 
ut etiam mediocriler docti illam 
viam caperent et intelligerent. 

Ego autem quamvis cognos- 
cam posse hoc ostendi per for- 
mam sphsericam, ut est mundus, 
tamcn determinavi, pro faciliori 
intelligentia ac etiam pro faci- 
liori opera via ilia per quam 
charta; navigations fiunt illud 

Mitto ergo suie Majestati 
chartam, manibus meis factam, 
in qua designantur littora vestra 
et insula; ex quibus vobis inci- 
piendum erit iter facere versus 
occasum semper, et loca ad quze 
vobis perveniendum, et quan- 

1 Caperent et intelligcrent. — In order to understand these subjunctive 
imperfects we must understand si res postularct, si occasio se daret. 

4 Ostendere -viam illam. — Ostendere viam illam and illud declarare 
mean the same thing ; therefore they form a repetition. One of the 
two should disappear. We think ostendere viam illam should be 
eliminated. Ostendere appears to be an interpolation introduced into 
the text to account for the accusative viam illam. Did viam illam 
stand in the original text ? For our part, we doubt it. The manu- 
scripts usually mark the accusative by a horizontal line drawn above 
the vowel. But this line, in words of the first declension, like viam 
illam, might strictly only mark the length of the vowel, and conse- 
quently the ablative case, which some writers still write via ilia. 
With the ablative vid Ula and eliminating ostendere the phrase is 
grammatically correct and the meaning becomes clear. Vid Hid then 
no longer means that road, but by that method or process. What 
makes this emendation very plausible is that the idea of road is 
expressed at the beginning of the phrase by the neuter pronoun hoc, 
hoc ostendi, which naturally calls for illud at the end, illud 

Ktplatis, debeatis ptrvenier 

* Incipiatis, etc.— All these subjunctiv 


Coloubina Text. 

a linea equinotiali debeatis 
declinare et per quantum 
spacium scilicet per quot 
miliaria debeatis peruenire ad 
loca fertilissima omnium aroma- 
turn et gemarom, et non mire- 
mini si voco occidentates partes 
vbi sunt aromata cum com- 
muniter dicantur orientates quia 
nauigantibus ad occidentem 
semper ille partes inueniuntur 
per subterraneas nauigaciones. 7 
Si enirii per terra m et per 
superiora itinera ad orientem 
senper reperirentur. 8 

linee ergo recte in longitudine 
carte signate ostendunt distan- 
ciam ab orientem* versus 
occidens 10 que au tern transverse 
sunt ostendunt spacia a meridie 
versus septentrionem. 

notavi autem in carta di versa 

Corrected Text. 

turn a polo vel a linea aequinoc- 
tiaJi vobis declinandum sit, et 
per quantum spatium, scilicet, 
per quot milliaria perventuri 
sitis ad loca fertilissima omnium 
aromatum et gemmaruro. Et 
non miremini, si voco occiden- 
tales partes ubi sunt aromata, 
cum communiter dicantur orien- 
tales, quia navigantibus per 
subterraneas navigationes ad 
occidentem semper ilia; partes 
inveniuntur ; si, enim, per 
terram et per superiora itinera, 
ad orientem semper reperientur. 

Linea? ergo rectas, in longi- 
tudine chartas signatie, osten- 
dunt distantiam ab oriente 
versus occidentem, qua? autem 
transversa; sunt ostendunt spatia 
a meridie versus septentrionem, 

Notavi autem in chartadiversa 

are wrongly used, and should be corrected ; it is the same with 
the expressions debeatis declinare and debeatis pervenire which follow ; 
they are weak, and do not express the thought of the author. 

1 Per subterraneas navigationes. — This complement is placed out 
of all regard to good sense. This has been done by some one evi- 
dently ignorant of Latin construction. Its position logically should 
follow immediately after navigantibus. 

* Reperirentur. — Mr Harrisse justly corrects this imperfect subjunc- 
tive by the future reperientur, which undoubtedly gives a much more 
natural meaning. 

9 Ab orientem. — Ab oriente is required. Mr Harrisse has already 
made this correction. 

10 Versus occidens. — Analogy requires we should here write occiden- 
tem. The words orient and occidens have been throughout treated as 


:olombina Text. 

loca 11 ad que peruenire po- 
testis 1 * pro majori noticia naui- 
gancium scilicel ll ventis vel 
casu aliquo alibi 1 * quam exist! - 
marent venirent partin autem 
vt ostendant incolis ipsos habere 
noticiam aliquam patrie illius 

Corrected Text. 

loca ad qu*e pervenire possetis ; 
et h;ec quidem pro majori notitia 
navigantium, si, ventis vel casu 
aliquo, alio quam existi marent 
venirent ; partim autem ut 
ostendant incolis ipsos habere 
notitiam aliquam patriae illius, 

11 Diversa lota. — Meaning outlying places. 

a Potestis. — This indicative has no business here, all this phrase being 
conditional. It should be possetis. Moreover it was so rendered in the 
two old translations of Las Casas and d'Ulloa. 

" Pro majori notitia navigantium scilicet. — These few words, flung 
in here like a clumsy parenthesis, can only be the fragment of a phrase 
whose beginning has disappeared. To begin with, the adverb scilicet does 
not belong to it. This word, represented in Columbus' manuscript by a 
simple s between two points, is evidently a bad guess the copyist has 
substituted for the conditional si which ought to be here, its presence 
being absolutely required for understanding the rest of the phrase. It 
should therefore be restored. Scilicet having gone, the clause pro majori 
notitia navigantium remains isolated, lopped, and appears wholly foreign 
to the text. . Nevertheless it does undoubtedly form a portion of it, for it 
is the first term of an enumeration of reasons of which partim autem, 
which follows, is the second. It is therefore one of two things : either 
these words are out of place and require moving in order to resume their 
true relation to the rest of the sentence, or they are mutilated, i.e., they 
have lost those parts which grammatically entitled them to the place they 
occupy. Logic would seem to require 
that is as near as possible to the verb n 

but the difference of persons of the verbs possetis on one hand, and existi- 
marent, vem'rcnton the other, refuse to permit of such displacement. The 
words pro majori notitia navigantium are therefore in their place, but 
they can only be there because primitively they must have been preceded 
by an expression recalling at once the verb notavi and marking the 
opposition between them and the clause partim autem. This express 
sion should be either et here quidem, or et ila quidem, or some 
similar form. Thanks to these corrections the meaning becomes clear, 
grammar is satisfied, and the whole paragraph assumes a reasonable 

" Alibi. — With a verb denoting movement like venirent, it is the 
correlative alio that should be employed. 

a between charta and diversa, 
o which logically they refer ; 


Colombina Text. 

quod debebit esse iocundum 
satis, non considant 1 * autem in 
insulis nisi mercatores. 

aserit IS ibi enim tantacopia 
nauigancium est cum merci- 
moniis vt in toto reliquo orbe 
non sint sicuti in uno portu 
nobilisimo vocato zaiton. aser- 
unt enim centum naues piperis 
magne" in eo portu 17 singulis 
annis deferri, sine aliis nauibus 
portantibus allia aromata. 

patria ilia est populatisima 
dilisima multitudine prouinda- 

Corrected Text. 

quod debebit esse jucundum 

Non considere autem in in- 
sulis nisi mercatores, asseritur. 

Ibi enim tanta copia navigan- 
tium est cum mercimoniis, ut, 
in toto reliquo orbe, non sint 
sicuti in uno portu nobilissimo 
vocato Zaiton. Asserunt enim 
centum naves piperis magnas in 
eum portum singulis annis 
deferri, sine aliis navibus por- 
tantibus alia aromata. 

Patria ilia est populatissima, 
ditissima multitudine provtn- 

Non considant autem in insulis nisi mercatores aserit — The copyist 
iderstood this passage, for he throws asserit into the next phrase 
t form part. Asserit ibi enim is not Latin, enim 
follow the first word of the phrase. Ibi enim is 
phrase. Asserit must therefore throw back and 
the preceding phrase. But as it stands there 
Harrisse changes it into asseritur ; we fully 
less happy in changing considant into 
pprove of it. What led him to it was that this 


of which this verb 
being always required t 
the beginning of the ne: 
join itself to the end o 
asserit means nothing, 
agree with this 

subjunctive appeared to him to be of doubtful Latinity. It is also our 
opinion, though none the less we think it belonged to the original teit, 
for it has an Italian aroma that may well have deceived the author of the 
letter. The Italians are accustomed to say : che non vi sicnopero stabiiiti 

tuiP isole se nun mercanti, j 
in insulis nisi mercatores, ass 
phrase. In order to Latinise 
considant into the infinitive f 
surprising, because the s 
on this occasion under i 

'• Magna.— A nominativ, 
seen : it should be magnas. 

a In eo for tu.— Equally inadmissible is in and the ablative with a 
verb of movement : eum portum is required. 

i dice. The phrase non considant autem 
•ritur, is a literal rendering of the Italian 
it, it would have sufficed to transform non 
ion considere. This error is all the more 

.me expression recurs a few lines lower and 

> regular form : asserunt e 

n infinitive proposition has r 

r been 


;olombina Text. 

rum et regnorum et ciuitatum 
sine numero. sub uno principe 
qui dicitur magnus kan quod 
nomen significat in latino rex 
regum. cujus sedes et residencia 
est vt plurimum in prouincia 

antiqui sui ls desiderabant 
consorcium christianorum iam 
sunt 200 anni miscerunt 19 ad 
papam et postulabant plurimos 
dotos in fide vt illuminarentur. 
sed qui missi sunt inpediti in 
itinere redierunt. 

etiam tempore Eugenii venit 
unus ad eugenium qui de beni- 
uolentia magna erga christianos 
afirmabat et ego secum 20 lottgo 
sermone locutus sum de multis, 
de magnitudine edificiorum 
regaliumet de magnitudine flu- 
vium sl in 12 latitudine et longi- 
tudine mirabili et de multitu- 
dine ciuitatum in ripis fluuium a ' 

Corrected Text. 

et regnorum et civi- 
tatura sine numero, sub uno 
principe qui dicitur Magnus 
Kan, quod nomen significat in 
latino rex regum ; cujus sedes 
et residentia sunt ut plurimum 
in provincia Katay. 

Ejus antiqui desiderabant 
consortium christianorum. Jam 
sunt 200 anni miserunt ad 
papam et postulabant plurimos 
doctosin fide ut illuminarentur ; 
sed qui missi sunt, impediti in 
itinere, redierunt. 

Etiam tempore Eugenii venit 
unus ad Eugenium, qui de 
benevolentia magna erga Chris- 
tianos affirmabat. Et ego cum 
eo longo sermone locutus sum 
de multis, de magnitudine aedi- 
ficiorum regalium ct de magni- 
tudine fluviorum, latitudine et 
longitudine mirabili, et de 
multitudine civitatum in ripis 

18 Antiqui sui.— The Latins only employed the possessive adjective 
suus, sua, suum when the possessor and the thing possessed occurred 
in the same sentence. Ejus is here wanted. 

" Misccrtmt is a corruption for miserunt. Harrisse has already 
made this correction. 

■" Secum. — This reflexive pronoun has no business here : it should 
be cum eo. 

11 Eluvium. — Harrisse sees in flwvium a corruption of fluminum. 
We are not of his opinion. We rather favour a clumsy abbreviation 
of fluviorum. Indeed, further on we shall find artiflciutn for arts'- 


n In latitudine— This in is contrary to the genius of the Latin tongue. 
In Latin greatness in breadth and length is breadth and length. In 


Colombina Text. 

vt in vno flumine joo e M ciui- 
tates sint constitute et pontes 
marmorei magne latitudinis et 
longitudinis vndique colonp- 
nis M ornati. 

hec patria dxgna est vt per 
latinos 5 * queratur non solum 
quia lucra ingencia ex ea capi 
posunt auri et argenti gemarutn 
omnis generis et aromatum que 
nunquam ad nos deferuntur. 
Verum propter doctos viros 
philosofos et astrologos peritos 
et quibus M ingeniis et artibus 

Corrected Text. 

fluviorura, ut in uno flumine 
200 cirdter civitates sint con- 
stitute, et pontes marmorei, 
magnas latitudinis et longitu- 
dinis undique columnis ornati. 
Hasc patria digna est ut a 
Latin is queratur non solum 
quia lucra tngentia ex ea capi 
possunt auri et argenti, gemma- 
rum omnis generis et aromatum 
qusenunquam ad nos deferuntur, 
verum propter doctos viros, 
philosophos et astrologos peri- 
tos, et quorum ingeniis et 

must be omitted, and latitudine et longitudine mtrabili become merely 
a laudatory complement. 

n e. — Columbus' manuscript has here an e which the authors of the 
Raccolta Colombiana have been unable to explain. Harrisse thinks 
it is a corruption of c standing for circiter. Unable to propose any- 
thing better we adopt this conjecture. 

* Colonpnis. — A corruption of Colitmnis- 

" Per latinos.— See. note I. 

M Et guibus ingeniis et artibus, etc. — Harrisse gives a limited mean- 
ing to all this passage which we cannot approve. Starting with the 
subjunctives gubementur and conducant, which he tries to explain, 
he imagines a principal phrase which nothing warrants, and places 
these subjunctives in dependence on it. According to him the text 
should say that it is desirable to enter into relation with the learned 
men, the philosophers, because they might teach us by what methods 
so powerful a province is governed, etc. It is self-evident that when 
one seeks to enter into relations with scholars, whoever they may be, 
it is to profit by their learning, whatever it may be ; but not for the 
purpose of requesting them to give a reply to a precise question to 
which it might be impossible for them to answer. Harrisse has 
committed the error of taking as the basis for his interpretation two 
words which are clearly defective, since one gubementur is in the plural, 
while its subject is in the singular, and the other is in the active while 
the first is passive, although they are in grammatical agreement with 
one another. If these two words are defective in one respect, there 


Colombina Text. 

Corrected Text. 

ita 27 potens et magnifica pro- 
uincia gubernentur ac etiam 
bella conducant. 

H;ec pro aliquantula satisfa 
[cione] ad tuam w peticionem 
quantum brevitas temporis 
dedit et occupaciones mee con- 
cepscerunt w paratus in futurum 
regie maiestati quantum M volet 
latius satisfacere. Data florencie 

?5 l 


is no reason why at the same 
another ; and, for our part, we 
only should gubernentur be put 
but also that it should be in the 

artibus ilia potens et magnifica 
provincia gubernatur ac etiam 
bella conducuntur. 

Haec pro aliquantula satisfac- 
tione ad tuam petitionem, quan- 
tum brevitas temporis dedit et 
occupationes raeK concesserunt, 
paratus in futurum regise Majes- 
tati, quart to voluerit latius, 
satisfacere. Data Florentise 
aSJunii 1474. 
me they should not be also so in 
»re strongly inclined to believe not 
1 the singular, as Harrisse suggests, 
idicative gubernatur; not only should 
conducant 'be made passive, but that, like gubernatur, it should also be in 
the indicative conducuntur. These two corrections necessarily entail that 
quibus should become quorum, and the two prepositions formed by guber- 
natur and conducuntur become simple attributive complements of the 
same kind as Peritos. The meaning thus obtained becomes much 
more natural, logical, and clearer than the one proposed by Harrisse. 
Moreover it conforms, within trifling limits, to the reading of the two 
ancient translations of Las Casas and the htorie. 

r Ita. — The two ancient translations read ilia instead of ita. The 
words so closely resemble each other that it was easy for the confusion 
to arise. Furthermore the change of ita into ilia becomes necessary 
following the corrections we have made in this passage. 

a Tuam. — Harrisse here reads suam; he has not noticed in the 
manuscript that the scribe has himself corrected into / the s he had 
first written. Furthermore, Harrisse's reading cannot be accepted 
for two reasons : first, it is grammatically impossible to put thus 
without preparation a possessive adjective referring to a subject, in 
this case king, which has been forcibly lost sight of, since it has 
not been mentioned from the beginning of the letter. But, further- 
more, the excuse made by the writer, at the most barely permissible 
if addressed to a friend, to an equal, becomes simply an impertinence 
if directly addressed to the king. Therefore we stick to tuam. 

M Conccflscerunt.—A corrupt word which with Harrisse we correct 
into concesserunt. 

10 Quantum. — Before the comparative latius this word should be 
altered into quanta. 


Colombwa Text. 

A ciuitate vlixiponis 81 per 
occidentem in directo sunt 26 

spacia in carta signita quorum 
quodlibet habet miliaria 250 
usque ad nobilisim[am] et 
maximam ciuitatem quinsay 
circuit enim centum miliaria et 
habet pontes decern et nomen 
eius sonat cita del cielo ciuitas 
celi et mult a mi ran da de ea 
narrantur de multkudine artifi- 
cium M et de reditibus. hoc 
spacium est fere tercia pars 
tocius spere. que ciuitas est in 
prouincia mangi scilicet vicina 
prouincie katay in qua resi- 
dencia terre regia est. 

Sed ab insula antilia vobis 
nota ad insulam nobilisimam 
cippangu sunt decern spacia 
est enim ilia insula fertilisima 
aur[o]. margaritis et gemmis, 
et auro solidocooperiunt templa 
et domos regias itaquod 88 per 
ygnota itinera non magn[a] 
maris spacia transeundum. 
multa fortasse essent aperitus 8 * 

Corrected Text. 

A civitate Ulyssipone per 
occidentem in directo sunt 26 
s patia in chart a signata, quorum 
quodlibet habet mil liana 250 
usque ad nobilissimam et maxi- 
mam civitatem Quinsay. Cir- 
cuit enim centum (miliaria, et 
habet pontes decern, et nomen 
ejus sonat citta del cielo, civitas 
oeli, et multa miranda de ea 
narrantur, de multitudine arti- 
ficiorum et de reditibus. (Hoc 
spatium est fere tertia pars 
todus sphaera:.) Qua; civitas est 
in provincia Mangi, scilicet, 
vicina provincial Katay in qua 
residentia terra regia est. 

Sed ab insula Antilia, vobis 
nota, ad insulam nobilissimam 
Cippangu sunt decern spatia. 
Est enim ilia insula fertilissima 
auro, margaritis et gemmis, et 
auro sol id o cooperiunt templa 
et domos regias. Itaque per 
ignota itinera non magna maris 
spatia transeundum ; multa 
fortasse essent apertius declar- 

» Ulixiponis.—l 
as here in depende 
case as lhat noun. 

custom require* that a proper name placed 
noun should be put in the same 

■zrtifitiorum. The abbreviatio 

83 Itaquod. — A corruption for Hague. 

M Aperitus. — Also a corruption for apertius, as Harrisse has already 


Colombina Text. Corrected Text. 

declaranda sed diligens con- anda, sed diligens considerator 

siderator per hec poteri[t] per haec potent ex se ipso 

ex se ipso reliqua prospicere. reliqua prospicere. Vale dilec- 

vale dilectisime. tissime. 



Spanish Version of Las Casas (Hist6ria de las Indias, vol. I., 
Book I., chap, jcii., p. 93), with an English Translation. 


Mucho placer ho be de saber 
la privanza y familiar idad que 
tienes con vuestro generosisimo 
y magnificentisimo Rey, y bien 
que otras [nuchas veces tenga 
dicho del muy breve camino 
que hay de aqui a las Indias, 
adonde nace la especieria, por 
el camino de la mar mas corto 
que aquel que vosotros haceis 
para Guinea, dices me que 
quiere agora S. A. de mi 
alguna declaracion y a ojo de- 
monstracion, porque se en- 
tienda y se pueda tomar el 
dicho camino ; y aunque con- 
ozco de mi que se lo puedo 
monstrar en forma de esfera 
como estd el mundo, determine 
por mas facil obra y mayor in- 


I have had pleasure in learn- 
ing of the favour and conde- 
scension which you enjoy from 
your most liberal and most 
magnificent King, and though 
I have other ofttimes spoken of 
the very short route which 
there is hence to the Indies 
where the spices grow — a 
shorter sea -route than that 
which you take for Guinea — 
you tell me that His Highness 
now demands of me a state- 
ment and ocular demonstration 
in order that the said route be 
understood and taken ; and 
though I, for my part, know 
that I can show it him in the 
form of a globe (such as the 
world is). I have resolved — it 


teligencia monstrar el dicho ca- 
mino por una carta semejante a 
aquellas que se hacen para 
navegar, y ansi la invio a S. 
M, hecha y debujada de mi 
mano ; en la cual esta pintado 
todo el fin del Poniente, to- 
mando desde Irlanda al Austro 
hasta el fin de Guinea, con 
todas las islas que en este ca- 
mino son, en frente de las 
cuales derecho por Poniente 
esta pintado el comienzo de 
las Indias con las islas y los 
lugares adonde podeis desviar 
para la Hnea equinoccial, y por 
cuanto espacio, es a saber, en 
cuantas leguas podeis llegar a 
aquellos lugares fertilisitnos y 
de toda nianera de especieria y 
de joyas y piedras preciosas ; y 
no tengais a maravilla si yo 
llamo Poniente adonde nace la 
especieria, porque en comun se 
dice que nace en Levante, mas 
quien navegare al Poniente 
siempre hailara las dichas parti- 
das en Poniente, e quien fuere 
por tierra en Levante siempre 
hailara las mismas partidas en 

Las rayas derechas que estan 
en luengo en la dicha carta 
amuestran la distancia que es 
de Poniente a Levante ; las 


being a simpler task and of 
easier comprehension — to show 
the said route on a map such as 
those made for navigating, and 
thus I send it to H.M. made 
and drawn by my hand : where- 
on is given all the extremity of 
the west, starting from Ireland 
southwards to the end of 
Guinea, with all the islands 
that are on this route, opposite 
which [islands] due west is the 
beginning of the Indies with the 
islands and places whither you 
can deviate by the equinoctial 
line, and for what distance — 
that is to say, in how many 
leagues you can reach those 
places most rich in all manner 
of spice, and of jewels, and of 
precious stones ; and be not 
amazed if 1 call west [the 
place] where the spice grows, 
for it is commonly said that it 
grows in the east, yet whoso 
steers west will always find the 
said parts in the west, and 
whoso goes east overland will 
find the same parts in the east. 

The straight lines which are 
lengthwise on the said map 
show the distance that there is 
from west to east ; the others 




otras que son de traves amues- 
tran la distancia que es de sep- 
tentrion en Austro. Tambien 
yo pinte en la dicha carta 
muchos lugares en las partes 
de India, adonde se podria ir 
aconteciendo algun caso de 
tormenta o de vientos contra- 
rios o cualquier otro caso que 
no se esperase acaecer y tam- 
bien porque se sepa bien de 
todas aquellas partidas, de que 
debeis holgar mucho. 

Y sabed que en todas aquellas 
islas no viven ni tractan sino 
mercaderes, avisandoos que alii 
hay tan gran cantidad de naos, 
marineros, mercaderes con 
mercaderias, como en todo lo 
otro del mundo, y en especial 
en un puerto nobilisimo 11a- 
mado Zaiton, do cargan y de- 
scar gan cada aiio 100 naos 
grandes de pimienta, allende 
las otras much as naos que 
cargan las otras especierias. 

Est a patria es populatisima, 
y en ella hay tnuchas provin- 
cias y muchos reinos yciudades 
sin cuento debajo del Senorio 
de un Principe que se llama 
Gran Khan, el cual nombre 
quieredecir en nuestro romance, 
Key de los Reyes, el asiento 

which are crosswise show the 
distance from north to south. 
I have also given on the said 
map many places in the extent 
of India, whither one might go 
should there befall some mis- 
chance of storm or of head 
winds or any other hap that 
betided unforeseen, and also in 
order that all these parts may 
be well known, whereof you 
should much delight. 

Know likewise that in all 
those islands there live and 
traffic none but merchants, 
bearing in mind that there is 
there as great an assemblage of 
vessels, sailors, merchants, and 
merchandise as in all the rest 
of the world, and in particular 
at a most superb port named 
Zaiton, where ioo huge vessels 
of pepper load and unload 
yearly, besides the other numer- 
ous vessels carrying the other 

This land is very populous, 
and in it are many provinces 
and many kingdoms and cities 
out of number beneath the 
sway of a Prince called [the] 
Great Khan, which name, in 
our vernacular, means King 
of Kings ; whose abode is for 


lil ticmpo 

. n 1 i |>i.i> m. i.i it Catnyo, Sus 

.1,-.- ifon nucha di 

I. ill, . !■;..... . 

Ml. Ill 

tin •rt.uijiic cuvuron at Sancto 

■ i 1 1 h bn 


.1 ,. II IIU. ! . 

Hue ol Invld, par Impeditnemo, 

■ ill' ii i. 'ii ilrl i .in . V 

i.iinIiu ii il l'd|u luij-t-nii) vino 

ii Ii..|J.|i.i i|iir I. i-imi.iliLi !,i 

II r tin ile nmlttitd que ello» (icncn 

i 1 1 uinl.fiyu liable mucho 

MR el c tic muchm coui 4 do 
ln» grandem do loi odincios 

I. .ill ■ .1. I i :■! null ;■;■ .Ii In; 
ii,.-, i n .in. Ini v .'ii Liu..,, , ,.-..i 

maravilloia, d da la mudic- 
dunibro de la* ciudades que son 
all* a U orillu dcllns, e MOM 

...i u | I'D mi rio ion do*- 

cioiitat clududcK, y hay pucntes 
ties picdra inanucil muy anchas 
y muy largas adornadas de 

- I, i i ..Inum. i\ tic piudra 

itiannol. Kst » patria cs digna 
cuanlo nunca se haya lialladu, 
c no nolamente "e pucde haber 
en clla grandiaimas ganancias 
L cosas, mas aun se 
pucde haber era e plata e 
picdra* preciosas e de todns 
man eras dc especieria, en gran 


the most rime in the j 

of Cathay. Bfa j 

wished greatly to bold isnex- 

euurse and converse with 
Christians and some dn 
hundred years ago thrr «rn 
to the Holy Father [prayine] 
that he would send them many 
wise men and doctor* who 
might teach them oof faith, 
but those whom he sent re- 
turned on the road, because of 
obstacle[s] ; and likewise to 
Pope Eugenius came an am- 
bassador who related unto him 
the great friendship that thev 
bear to Christians, and I haw 
talked much with him of many 
things, and of the vastneas of 
the royal buildings, and of the 
vastness of the rivers in breadth 
and in length, a thing to marvel 
at, and of the multitude of cities 
which are there upon their 
banks, and how upon a single 
river there are two hundred 
cities, and there are marble 
bridges, very broad and very 
long, embellished with many 
marble columns. This land is 
as worthy as ever [can bej of 
being discovered, and not only 
may great gains and many 
things be had there, but tl 
may be had even gold 


suma, de la cual nunca se trae 
a estas nuestras partes ; y es ver- 
dad que hombres sabios y 
doctos, filosofos y astreilogos, 
y otros grandes sabios, en todas 
artes de grande ingenio, gobier- 
nan la magnifica provincia e 
ordenan las batallas. 

Y de la ciudad de Lisboa, en 
derecho por el Poniente, son 
en la diclia carta 26 espacios, y 
en cada uno dellos hay 250 
millas hasta la nobilisima y 
gran ciudad de Quinsay, la cual 
tiene al cerco 100 millas que 
son 25 leguas, en la cual son 10 
puentes de piedra marmol. El 
nombre de la cual ciudad en 
nuestro romance, quiere decir 
ciudad del cielo ; de la cual se 
cue n tan cosas maravillosas de 
la grandeza de los artificios y 
de las rentas (este espacio es 
cuasi la tercera parte de la 
esfera), la cual ciudad es, en la 
provincia de Mango, vecina de 
la ciudad del Catayo, en la cual 
esta lo mas del tiempo el Rey, 
£ de la isla de Antil, la que 
vosotros 11a ma is de Siete 
Ciudades, de la cual tenemos 
noticia, hasta la nobilisima isla 

silver and precious stones, and 
all manner of spices in great 
profusion, whereof there is 
never any brought to these 
our parts ; and true it is that 
men wise and learned, philo- 
sophers and astrologers, and 
other great sages, of great 
accomplishment in all arts, 
govern the magnificent pro- 
vince and direct campaigns. 

And from the city of Lisbon, 
straight to the west, in the said 
map are 26 spaces, and in each 
one of them there are 250 
miles as far as the most superb 
and mighty city of Quinsay, 
which has a circumference of 
100 miles, which are 25 leagues, 
wherein are ten bridges of 
marble. The name of which 
city in our vernacular means 
City of Heaven ; whereof are 
related marvels manifold con- 
cerning the dimensions of its 
manufactures and revenues 
(this space is almost the third 
part of the globe), which city 
is in the province of Mango, 
close to the city of Cathay, 
wherein the King mostly 
dwells, and from the island of 
Antilia — that which you call 
Seven Cities — whereof we have 
information, to the most superb 



de Cipango hay loespados que 
sop 2500 millas, es a saber 625 
leg u as, la cual isla es fertilisima 
de oro y de perlas y piedras 

Sahed que de oro puro cobi- 
jan los lemplos y las ctsas 
reales ; asi que por no ser 
conocido el camino est an todas 
estas cosas encubiertas, y a ella 
se puede ir muy seguramente. 
Muchas otras cosas se podrian 
decir, mas como os tenga ya 
dicho por palabra y sois de 
buena cons id e radon, se que no 
vos queda por entender, y por 
tanto no me alargo mas, y esto 
sea por satisfaccion de tus de- 
mandas cuanto la brevedad del 
tiempo y mis occupaciones me 
han dado lugar ; y ansi quedo 
muy presto a satisfacer y servir 
a S. A. cuanto mandare muy 

Fecha en la ciudad de Flor- 
encia a 25 de Junio de 1474 
art os. 


city of Cipango, there are t 
spaces, which are 2500 miles, 
that is to say 62; leagues, which 
island is exceeding rich in gold 
and pearls and precious stones. 

Know that they cover the 
temples and royal dwellings 
with pure gold ; thus the route 
being unknown, all these things 
are hidden, and one may go 
thither very safely. Many 
other things might be said, but 
as I have already spoken to you 
by word of mouth and you are 
of excellent thoughtful n ess, I 
know that there is naught left 
fot you to understand, and in 
so much I expatiate no more. 
And may this satisfy your de- 
mands so far as the shortness 
of time and my pursuits allow ; 
and thus I remain most ready 
to satisfy and serve His High- 
ness to such extent as he may 

Done in the city of Florence 
on the 25 of June of the year 



Italian Versio 

of the Historie, fol. 16- 

8, with English 


A Fernando Martinez ca- 
nonico di Lisbona Paolo Fisico 

Molto mi piacque intendere 
la domestichezza, che tu hai col 
tuo Serenissirao & Magnifi- 
centis. Re, fit quantunque molte 
altre volte 10 habbia ragionato 
del brevissimo camino, che e 
di qua all'Indie, dove nascono 
le specierie, per la via del mare, 
il quale io tengo piu breve di 
quel, che voi fate per Guinea, 
tu mi did, che Sua Attezza 
vorrebbe hora da me alcuna 
dichiaratione, o dimostratione, 
accioche s'intenda, & si possa 
prendere detto camino. 


To Fernam Martins, Canon 
of Lisbon, Paul the physician 
sends greeting. 

It pleased me much to hear 
the familiarity thou dost enjoy 
with thy most serene and mag- 
nificent King, and though many 
other times I have discoursed 
of the shortest road there is 
from here to the Indies, where 
grow the spices, by way of the 
sea, the which I hold shorter 
than that which you make by 
Guinea, you tell me His High- 
ness would now have from me 
some statement or demonstra- 
tion so that it may be under- 
stood and whether it were 
possible to take the said way. 



I 1< , come ch'io sappia 

II |ii do mostrarle con b 
i maim, & farle veder, 

■ il I In | tiotidtmeno 

ntQ |»t pin facilitlt, 


■ di tto camino per 

■ I ijuclle, chc 

v (W r itsvurare. 

. , i \ I i .■:.'■- . 

I. im.i BMM 

■ ■■■.■ tutto il Hne 

i p%t(aado(UIritn< 

to kN V"' '-- ;«i fin tii 

h i olt, ch« 

. whn |fao> 

Hi «lte quali 

■ ■ ... 

u.i... coa ic 

; ' '>■■ ! " d«*i potrte beginning of the Indies with 

.i.: polo i lie islands and places whither 

. ptr you may go : and how much 

<>«h>, e per from the Arctic Pole you may 

■ deviate by the equinoctial line, 

1 lMtt|t«« * «JU*i and by how much space, that 

is to say in how many leagues 

you may reach to those places 

mo« rich in all kinds of 

•pices, of gems and of precious 


And hold it not as a marvel 
if I call West the region where 
i N. .)'i.>t tht spice grows, which it is 

'■■ Irtu nm commonly said grows in the 

■ H : for those who sail west- 

onM flaw I - -_;-j.-. 
h a n d, and make him see it, as the 
world b, nererthdess I have de- 
cided far greater case and for 
greater rnmptchtniiiou to de- 
monstrate the said road by a 
chart like to those that are 
made -■■ * mi ptfig 

And thus I send it to His 
Majesty made and drawn by my 
hand in which I bate depicted 
all the extremity of the West 
taking from Ireland to the 
South, even to the end of 
Guinea with all the islands, 
which lie along the whole 
route, facing which directly 
westward lies depicted the 

' WiMITtt 

■■■■ »t|U»| 




che navigheranno al Ponente, 
sempre troveranno detti luoghi 
in Ponente ; e quelii, che 
anderanno per terra al Levante, 
sempre troveranno detti luoghi 
in Levante, 

Le linee dritte, que giacciono 
al lungo in delta carta, dismos- 
trano la distanza, che e dal 
Ponente al Levante ; le altre, 
che sono per obliquo, dimo- 
strano la distanza, che e dalla 
Tramontana al Mezzogiorno. 

Ancora io dipinsi in detta 
carta molti luoghi nelle parti 
dell' India, dove si potrebbe 
andare, avvenendo akun caso 
di fortuna, o di venti contrarii, 
o qualunque altro caso, che non 
si aspettasse, che dovesse av ve- 

Ed appresso, per darvi piena 
informatione di tutti quei 
luoghi, i quali desiderate molto 
conoscere, sappiate, che in tutte 
quelle isole non habitano, ne 
pratticano altri, che mercatanti; 
awertendovi, quivi essere cosi 
gran quantita di navi, e di mari- 
nari con mercatantie, come in 
ogni altra parte del mondo, 
specialmente in un porto nobt- 
lissimo, chiamato zaiton, dove 
caricano, e discaricano ogni anno 
cento navi grosse di pepe, oltre 

ward will ever find the said 
places in the West ; and those 
who go by land to the East 
will ever find the said places in 
the East. 

The straight lines which lie 
lengthwise on the said map 
reveal the distance there is 
from west to east ; the others 
which are slantingwise reveal 
the distance there is from the 
north to the south. 

Furthermore I have depicted 
in the said map many places 
in the parts of India whither 
one might go, there bechancing 
some stroke of fortune or ad- 
verse winds or any other matter 
whatsover which though unex- 
pected might befall. 

And furthermore, to give you 
full information of all these 
places which you greatly desire 
to know, learn that in all these 
islands there dwell not, nor 
traffic, others than merchants ; 
warning you that there there 
be a great multitude of ships 
and of sailors with merchandise 
as in all the other part of the 
world, chiefly in a most noble 
harbour, called Zaiton, where 
they load and unload every 
year one hundred large vessels 


alle molte altre navi, che cari- 
cano altre specierie. 

Questo paese e popolatisirao, 
e sono molte provincie, e mold 
regni, e ritta senza numero sotto 
il dominio di un Principe chia- 
mato il Gran Cane, ilqual nome 
vuol dire Re de' Re, la residenza 
del quale la maggior parte del 
tempo e nella provincia del 

I suoi antecessor! desidera- 
rono molto haver prattica e 
amicitia con Christian:, e gia 
dugento anni mandarono Am- 
basciatori al soramo Pontefice, 
supplicandolo, che gli mandasse 
mold savii e dottori, che gl'in- 
segnassero la nostra fede, ma per 
gl'impedimenti, ch'ebbero detti 
Ambasciatori, tornanoro adietro 
senza arrivsre a Roma. 

E ancora a Papa Eugenio IV 
venne uno Ambasciatore, il 
quale gli raccontb la grande 
amicitia, che quei Principi, e 
i loro popoli hanno co" chris- 
tian! : E io parlai lungamente 
con lui di molte cose, e delta 
grandezza delle fabriche regali, 
e della grossezza dei 6umi in 
larghezza, e in lunghezza, e ei 


of pepper, besides other numer- 
ous ships which load other 

This country is most peopled, 
and there are many provinces, 
and many kingdoms and cities 
beyond number, under the rule 
of a prince called the Great 
Khan, which name means to 
say King of King, of whom the 
dwelling for the more part of 
the time is in the province of 

His forefathers greatly desired 
to have intercourse and friend- 
ship with Christians, and now 
two hundred years ago they 
sent ambassadors to the Sove- 
reign Pontiff, begging him that 
he should send them many 
sages and doctors who might 
teach them our faith, but, by 
difficulties which befell these 
ambassadors, they turned back 
without reaching Rome. 

And still to Pope Eugenius 
IV there came an ambassador, 
who told him of the great 
friendship which these princes 
and their peoples have with 
Christians : and I spake long 
with him of many things, and 
of the greatness of the royal 
factories and of the magnitude 
of the rivers in broadness and 




mi disse molte cose maravigliose 
della moltitudine delle cittl, e 
luoghi, che son fondatti nelle 
rive loro, e che solamente in 
un fiume si trovano dugento 
cittk edificate cod ponti di pietra 
di marmo, molto larghi, e lunghi 
adornati di molte colonne. 

Questo paese e degno tanto, 
quanto ogni altro, che sihabbia 
trovato ; e non solamente vi si 
pub trovar grandissimo guad- 
agno, e molte cose ricriie ; ma 
ancora oro, e argento, e pietre 
pretiose, e di ogni sorte di 
specieria in grande quantita, 
della quale mai non si porta in 
queste nostre parti. 

Ed e il vero, che molti huo- 
mini dotti, Filosofi, e Astrologi, 
e altri grandi savii in tutte le 
Arti, e di grande ingegno 
governano quel la gran pro- 
vincia, e ordinano le batta- 

Dalla citta di Lisbona per 
dritto verso Ponente sono in 
detta carta ventisei spatii, cias- 
cun de' quali contien dugento 
e cinquanta migiia, fino alia 
nobilissima, e gran citta di 
Quisai, la quale gira cento 
migiia, che sono trentacinque 

in length, and he told me many 
wondrous things concerning 
the multitude of the cities and 
places which are raised upon 
their banks, and that alone on 
one river are found two hun- 
dred cities built with bridges 
of marble, very wide and long 
and adorned with many 

This country is as worthy as 
any other of being discovered, 
and not only there may be 
found great gain and many 
rich things, but also gold and 
silver, and precious stones, and 
of all kinds of spices in great 
quantities of which never is any 
brought into this our country. 

And it is true that many 
learned men, philosophers, and 
astrologers, and other great 
scholars in all the arts and of 
great talent, govern this great 
province and wage war. 

From the city of Lisbon 
direct westward there are on 
the said chart twenty-six spaces, 
each of which contains two 
hundred and fifty miles, even 
to the most noble and large 
city of Ouinsay which embraces 
a hundred miles around, which 

aoasn .-■-■:,■ i inM 

i-c "- --' ci H 

■ Am^Ch j 

ndaa alb prormcia del Caraio. 
oeBa quale ita la maggior parte 
del tempo il Re. 

E dall' isola dl Antilia, cbe 
voi cfa i a mat e di iette cirti, deOa 
quale havete notiria, fino alia 
nobilbaima iiola di Cipango 
sooo died ipatii cbe fan no doe 
mila e cincuecento miglia, cioe 
dugento e venticinque leghe : 
la quale Isola t fertilissima d'oro, 
di perle, e di pietre pretiose. 

E sappiate, che con piastre 
d'oro fino coprono i Tempii, e 
le case rcgali. Di modo che, 
per non esser eonosciuto il 
camino, tutte queste cose si 
ritrovano nascoste, e coperte ; 
e ad ease si pub andar sicura- 

Moltc altre cose si potreb- 
bono dire ; ma, come io vi ho 

sphere. This dtr hies a 

pn liu r Vi_~_". "-^'" I 
pn • •■z at ■ :• UnMpj 
which remains the g 
of the rime the Rmg. 

And from the ■ 
Antilia, which job call of t 
Seven Cities, of which yon fa 
information, ens to the i 

.,'.. . ."■ ■..■ . . :. 
spaces, which make two thou- 
sand five hundred miles, thai 
is to say two hundred and 
twenty-five leagues : which 
island is most rich in gold, 
pearls, and precious stones. 

And know that with plates 
of fine gold they cover the 
temples and the royal dwellings. 
In so much that, through this 
route not being known, all these 
things remain hidden and 
veiled, and to them one may go 

Many other things might 
be told ; but, as I have for- 




gia detto a bocca, e voi siete 
prudente, e di buon giudicio, 
mi rendo certo, che non vi 
resta cosa alcuna da intendere : 
e perb non sarb piu lungo. 

£ questo sia per sodisfactione 
delle vostre richieste, quanto la 
brevita del tempo e le mie 
occupation i mi hanno concesso. 

E cosi io resto prontissimo a 
sodisfare, e servir sua Altezza 
compiutamente in tutto quello, 
che mi commandera. 

Da Fiorenza, a xxv Giugno, 
dell' anno MCCCCLXXIIII. 


merly told you by word of 
mouth, and you are foreseeing 
and of good judgement, I am 
sure nothing remains to be 
explained to you : and therefore 
I will not further dilate. 

And this may be for satisfac- 
tion of your request, as much 
as the shortness of the time 
and my occupations have per- 
mitted me. 

And thus I remain most 
ready to satisfy and serve His 
Highness fully in all wherein 
he may command me. 

Given at Florence, the 
xxvth June, of the year 




Covering note of a copy of the letter to Martins. (No date.) 

Sources. — Columbus is supposed to have heard that Toscanelli 
interested himself in the route to the Indies, and thereupon to 
have requested Toscanelli to give him some information on the 
subject. It is then further supposed that the Florentine doctor 
sent Columbus a copy of his letter to Martins, accompanying it 
with the few lines which follow. (See above, First Part, chap, i., 

The original text, supposed to have been in Latin, is lost. 
Contemporary Spanish version, announced as being made on 
the Latin ; in Las Casas, Hisitiria, vol. I., chap, xii., p. 92. 
Italian version, also contemporary, but probably made on the 
above Spanish version : Historic, chap. viii. 

French Translations. 

Cotolendy, 1681. — La vie de Chris. Colomb (translated from 
the Historic), vol. I., pp. 20-21. Translation of the Italian text. 

Urano, 1824. — Hist, de Chris. Colomb, of Bossi. French 
translation, pp. 194-195. Translation of the Italian text. 

Mullek, 1 879. — Hist, de la vie, etc., de Ck. Colomb. Corrected 
edition of Cotolendy 's version of the Historic, p. 26. Translation 
of the Italian text. 


Gaffarel, 1892. 
I., p. 34. TranslaCic 

-Hist, de la de'couverte de V Amirique, 
of the Spanish text. 

English Translations. 

The History of the Life, etc., 1746. — Translated from t 
Historic, in Churchill's Collection of Voyages, vol. II., p. 56; 
Translation of the Italian text. 

Fiske, 1892. — The Discovery, etc., vol. I., p. 356. Trans!; 
tioti of the Italian text. 

Markham, 1893. — The Journal of Columbus, etc., pp. 2-A 
Translation of the Spanish text. 

Spanish Translations. 
Those copied in Las Casas come directly from the Latin. 
Barcia, who has included the Historic in his collection {Historia- 
dores), translates back Toscanelli's letters from the Italian into 
Spanish. Navarrete, who nevertheless could have made use of 
Las Casas' text, has placed Barcia's translation in his collection 
{Viages, vol. I.). 


(Histiria, Boole I., chap, xii., vol. I., p. 92), and English Tram 


A Cristobal Columbo, Paulo, 
fisico, salud : 

Yo veo el magnifico y grande 
tu deseo para haber de pasar 
adonde nace la especieria, y por 
respuesta de tu carta te invio el 
traslado de otra carta que ha 
dias yo escribi a un amigo y 
familiar del Serenisimo Rey de 
Portugal, dntes de las guerras 


To Christopher Columbi 
Paul, the physician, health ■ 

I notice the splendid 1 
lofty desire thou hast to journei 
whither grow the spices, and a 
answer to thy letter I send th< 
a copy of another letter I wrote 
some time back to a friend ant 
servant of the Most Serei 
King of Portugal, before thi 



de Castilla, a respuesta de otra 
que por comision de S.A. me 
escribi6 sobre el dicho caso, y 
te invio otra tal carta de mar- 
ear, como e5 la que yo le invie, 
por la cual seras satisfecho de 
tua demandas ; cuyo treslado 
es el que sigue. 


wars of Castilie, in reply to 
another which by command 
of H.H. he wrote me on the 
said matter, and I send thee an- 
other such chart for navigating 
as is the one I sent him, by 
which thou shalt be satisfied of 
thy request ; which copy is the 
one following. 

Historie, fol. 16 recto, and English Translation. 

To Christopher Columbus, 
Paul the physician, health : 

I see thy noble and great 
desire to wish to go there, 
where grow the spices. 

Wherefore in reply to a cer- 
tain letter of thine, I send thee 
a copy of another letter which 
some time ago I wrote to my 
friend, a servant of the Most 
Serene King of Portugal, before 
the wars of Castilie, in answer 
to another, which by command 
of His Highness he wrote me 
on this matter ; and I send 
thee another navigating chart, 
like to the one which I sent 
unto him, wherewith thy de- 
mands may remain satisfied. 
The copy of that letter of mine 
is this : 


A Christoforo Colombo, 
Paolo, fisico, salute : 

Io veggo il nobile, e gran de- 
siderio tuo di voler passar la, 
dove nascono le specierie. 

Onde per risposia d'una tua 
lettera ti mando la copia d'un' 
altra lettera, che alquanti giorni 
fa io scrissi ad un mio amico, 
domestico del sereniss. Re di 
Portogallo, avanti le guerre di 
Castiglia, in risposta d'un' altra, 
che per commissione di sua 
Altezza egli mi scrisse sopra 
detto caso : e ti mando un'altra 
carta navigatoria, simile a quella, 
ch'io mandai a lui, per la quel 
resteran sodisfatte le tue di- 
mande. La copia di quella mia 
lettera e questa : 



In answer to several letters from Columbus which no longer 
exist. Without date, but necessarily anterior to May 1482, the 
date of Toscanelli's death. 

Sources. — The original text, supposed to have been written in 
Latin, is lost. A contemporary Spanish version made on the 
Latin (Las Casas, Historia, vol I., pp. 95-96). A later Italian 
version, made probably on the Spanish text. (Historie, fol. 18 
verso and 19 recto.) 

French, English, and Spanish translations to be found after 
the first letter. 

See the bibliographical notices above. 

We call the attention of the critics to this remarkable letter, 
which is merely an abridgement of the one to Martins, of which 
it would appear to have been a rough draft or first proof. 



A Cristobal Columbo, Paulo, 
fisico, salud : 

Yo rescibi tus cartas con las 
cosas que me enviaste, y con 
ellas rescibi gran merced. Yo 
veo el tu deseo magnifico y 
grande a navegar en las partes 
de Levantepor lasde Poniente, 
como por la carta que yo te 
invio se amuestra, la cual se 
amostrara mejor en forma de 
esfera redonda, placeme mucho 
sea bien entendida ; y que es 
el dicho viaje no solamente 


To Christopher Columl 
Paul, the physician, health : 

I have received thy letters 
with the things thou didst send 
me, and with them I received 
a great favour. I notice thy 
splendid and lofty desire to sail 
to the regions of the east by 
those of the west, as is shown 
by the chart which I send you, 
which would be better shown 
in the shape of a round sphere ; 
it will please me greatly, should 
it be understood ; and that not 

■ bus, 


posible, mas que es verdadero 
y cierto e de honra e ganancia 
timable y de grand isi ma 
fama entre todos los cristianos. 

Mas vos no lo podreia bien 
conoscer perfectamente, salvo 
con la experieiicia 5 con la 
platica, como yo la he tenido 
copiosisima, e buena e verda- 
dera informacion de h ombres 
magnificos y de grande saber, 
que son venidos de las dichas 
partidasaqui en corte de Roma, 
y de otros mercaderes que han 
tractado mucho liempo en 
aquellas partes, hombres de 
much a auctoridad. 

Asi que cuando se hara el 
dicho viaje sera a reinos poder- 
osos e ciudades e provincias 
nobilisimas, riquisimas de todas 
maneras de cosas en grande 
abundancia y a nosotros mucho 
necesarias, ansi como de todas 
maneras de especieria en gran 
suma y de joy as en grandisima 

Tambien se ir.'i a los dichos 
Reyes y Principes que estan 
muy ganosos, mas que nos, de 
haber tracto e lengua con cristi- 
anos destas nuestras partes, 
porque grande parte dellos son 
cristianos, y tambien por haber 

only is the said voyage possible, 
but it is sure and certain, and 
of honour and countless gain, 
and of the greatest renown 
among all Christians. 

But you will not be able to 
understand it thoroughly ex- 
cept with experience or discus- 
sion, as I have had most fully, 
and good and true information 
of mighty men and of great 
learning, who have come from 
the said regions here to the 
Court of Rome, and of other 
merchants who have long 
trafficked in those parts, men 
of great authority. 

So that when the said journey 
occurs, it will be to powerful 
kingdoms and most noble cities 
and provinces, most rich in all 
manner of things in great 
abundance and very necessary 
to us, as also in all kinds of spices 
in great quantity, and of jewels 
in the largest abundance. 

It will also be to the said 
kings and princes who are very 
desirous, more than we are, to 
have dealing and speech with 
Christians from our parts, for a 
great number of them are 
Christians, and aiso to have 



lengua y tracto con los hombres 
sabios y de ingenio de aca, ansi 
en la religion como en todas 
las otras ciencias, por la gran 
fama de los imperios y regi- 
mientos que han destas nues- 
tras panes ; por las cuales cosas 
todas y otras muchas que se 
podrian decir, no me maravillo 
que tu que eres de grande cora- 
zon, y ti>da la nation de Portu- 
gueses, que han seido siempre 
bombres generosos en todas 
grandes empresas, te vea con 
el corazon encendido y gran 
deseo de poner en obra el dicho 


speech and dealing with the 
learned men and of genius from 
here, as well in religion as in 
ali the other sciences, because 
of the great reputation of the 
empires and administrations of 
these our parts ; for all which 
things and many others which 
might be mentioned, I do not 
wonder that thou who art of 
great spirit, and the whole 
nation of the Portuguese, who 
have always been men noble 
in all great undertakings, 
shouldst be seen with heart 
inflamed and full of desire to 
put into execution the said 

(With English Translation.) 


A Christoforo Colombo, 
Paolo, fisico, salute. 

lo ho ricevuto le tue lettere 
con le cose, che mi mandasti, le 
quali io hebbi per gran favore : 
e estimai il tuo desiderio nobile, 
e grande, bramando tu di navi- 
gar dal Levante al Ponente, 
come per la carta, ch'io ti man- 
dai, si dimostra : la quale si 
dimostrera meglio in forma di 
sfera rotonda. Mi piace molto, 


To Christopher Columbus, 
Paul, the physician, health. 

I have received thy letters 
with the things, which thou 
didst send me, which I hold as 
a great favour ; and I considered 
thy desire noble and great, thou 
wishing to sail from the east to 
the west, as is shown by the 
chart, which I sent thee : 
which would be better shown 
in the form of a round sphere. 


che ella sia bene intesa, e die 
detto viaggio non sol sia possi- 
ble, ma vero, e certo, e di 
honore, e guadagno inestima- 
ble, • e di grand issi ma fama 
appresso tutti i christiani. 

Voi non lo potete conoscere 
perfettamente, se non con la 
esperientia, 6 con la prattica, 
come io l'ho havuta copiosissi- 
mamente, e con buona, e vera 
informatione di huomini illus- 
tri, e di gran sapere, che son 
venuti di detti luoghi in questa 
corle di Roma ; e di altri mer- 
catanci, che hanno traficato 
lungo tempo in quelle parti, 
persone di grande autorita. 

Di modo che, quando si fara 
detto viaggio, sara in Eegni 
potenti, e in citta, e provincie 
nobilissime, riccbissime, e di 
ogni sorte di cose, a noi molto 
necessarie, abondanti ; cioe di 
ogni qualita di specierie in 
gran somma, e di gioie in 
gran copia. 

Cio sara caro etiandio a quei 
Re, e principi, che sono desi- 
derosissimi di pratticare e con- 
trattar con christiani di questi 
nostri paesi, si per esser parte 

It greatly pleases me that it 
has been well understood, and 
that the said journey not only 
may be possible, but true and 
certain, and of honour, and in- 
estimable profit, and of the 
very highest fame among all 

You cannot understand it 
perfectly, unless by experience 
and by practice, as I have had 
most fully, and with good and 
true information from illustri- 
ous men and of great know- 
ledge, who came from the said 
regions to this Court of Rome ; 
and from other merchants, who 
have long traded in those parts, 
persons of great authority. 

In such manner that, when 
the said journey is made, it will 
be in powerful kingdoms, and 
in most noble cities and pro- 
vinces, most wealthy, and 
abounding in all sorts of things, 
to us most necessary ; that is 
in every kind of spices in vast 
quantity, and in jewels in great 

That will also be agreeable 
to those kings and princes, who 
are most anxious to communi- 
cate and treat with the Chris- 
tians of these our countries, 



di lor christiani, e si ancora per 
haver lingua, e prattka con gli 
huomini savij e d'ingegrto di 
questi luoghi, cosi nella re- 
ligione, come in tutte le altre 
scientie, per la gran lama degl' 
imperij, e reggimenti, che 
hanno di queste parti. Per le 
quali cose, e per molte altre, 
che si potrebbono dire, non mi 
maraviglio, che tu, che sei di 
gran cuore, e tutta la natione 
Portoghese, la quale ha havuto 
sempre huomini segnalati in 
tutte le imprese, sij col cuore 
acceso, e in gran desiderio di 
eseguir detto viaggio. 


because some of them are 
Christians, and also in order 
to have speech and intercourse 
with the men learned and of 
genius of these parts as well 
in religion as in all the other 
sciences, through the great 
renown they have of the 
empires and governments of 
these regions. For which 
things, and for many others, 
which could be mentioned, 1 
do not wonder that thou, who 
art of great intrepidity, and all 
the Portuguese nation, which 
has always possessed men re- 
nowned in all enterprises, 
shouldst be burning and in great 
desire to prosecute the said 




Following the letter of which the text and translation have 
just been given, I had observed in my French edition that 
this letter struck me as strange far various reasons, and I put 
forward the opinion that it might be the rough draft or first 
outline of the principal letter. 

Mr Shipley, who was struck by this remark, sends me a 
letter of great interest on the subject. With me, he thinks 
this supposed second letter served as the text for drafting the 
first ; but he suggests it may well have been an authentic 
document written by an Italian in Rome to some unknown 
Portuguese, at the period when King Joao II was taking up 
again the schemes of Prince Henry the Navigator. This 
letter may have fallen into the hands of Columbus or a 
member of his family, and it was used for the concoction of 
the letter attributed to Toscanelli. Mr Shipley defends this 
theory by very ingenious and powerful arguments. I give 


here his letter in full, inasmuch as it raises a new qui 
which deserves to attract the attention of the critics :- 

Henry Vignaud, Esq., 

Author of " La Lettre tt la Carte de Toscanelli" etc., etc. 
Dear Sir, 

As you call the attention of criticism to the so-called 
"Second Letter of Toscanelli," said to have been addressed by 
him to Columbus, pointing out that it appears to be merely 
an abridgment or rather a draft of the First Letter, I may 
perhaps be permitted to suggest a few considerations regard- 
ing it, as a basis for further criticism. 

Taking it, in the first place, as the same letter in another 
form on account of the evident parallelism of subject running 
through the two letters and characterizing their general con- 
tents, we have to decide whether it is to be regarded as 
{a) an abridgment of the First Letter, whether by the author 
or by another person, that is, as having been .made from the 
First Letter itself after it was written ; (A) as a draft by the 
writer of the First Letter, and used by him in the elaboration 
of the longer document, with amplifications and modifications, 
but without essential change of plan ; (c) as a draft of a 
differently conceived letter having the same general purport 
as the final document, but essentially changed in form and 
conception during the process of elaboration by the author. 

This latter supposition appears to be the one put forward 
in your book, page 271 ; it is evidently more correct than 
either {a} or (6), inasmuch as this letter contains, along with 
passages which are obviously greatly expanded in the full 
copy, others which are not to be found in the longer 
document, and therefore are not abridged from it. There is, 
besides, a complete dissimilarity in the form. of the two letters, 
and in the arrangement of the material common to both, so 
that they produce different impressions on the mind of the 
reader, and in fact tell quite different stories. 



But there is another point of great importance to be con- 
sidered, namely, whether this Second Letter is really the work 
of the author of the First Letter, whom we assume to be 
demonstrably not Toscanelli, or whether it is possible to 
regard it as an original letter by another hand, which has 
been made use of in the elaboration of the First Letter. 

Of course the possibility that it is a genuine letter by 
Toscanelli, referring to the projected Atlantic voyage of 
Columbus, may be set aside for the same critical reasons 
which militate against the genuineness of the First Letter as 
coming from his hand ; and especially the arguments that 
there is nothing to show that Toscanelli ever concerned 
himself with the possibility of a western route to India or 
China, or that he was regarded in Portugal as an authority 
on the subject, or that he corresponded with any one on 
these matters. Nor is it likely that Columbus would have 
been in a position to send Toscanelli letters and other things 
which the latter acknowledges as a great favour. But these 
are not the points I propose to discuss. 

Let us now examine the Second Letter as it stands, and 
consider the internal evidence presented by it. 

(i) It contains in one document the covering letter and 
the substance of the First Letter. That is to say, it is 
addressed directly to Columbus, and contains no mention of 
Fernam Martins. The superscription is word for word that 
of the covering letter. 

(2) It is not a mere abridgment of the longer letter, for 
out of 65 lines occupied by the Spanish text, on pages 322-324 
of your book, only 30 lines appear to correspond fairly well 
with the substance of the longer text, while 10 lines corre- 
spond only in general sense, and the remaining 21 lines, or 
a full third of the letter, are not represented by any portion 
of the longer letter, and therefore are extraneous to it. 

(3) This letter would appear to have been written from 
Rome— (aqui en corte de Roma). 

(4) It is apparently addressed to a Portuguese, for it 



compliments the Portuguese nation in terms which suggt 
that the writer believed he was addressing one of that nati< 
Of course there is the possibility that the writer was under a 
misconception if the letter was really addressed by some one i 
Italy to Columbus in Portugal, but the phrase is scarcely one 
that would be likely to occur in a letter to Columbus, either 
real or fictitious, composed by one who knew that Columbus 
was a Genoese. Nor would there be any object in making a 
forged letter, at or after the period of the Columbian voyages, 
pay such compliments to the Portuguese, and to Columbus as 
one of the learned men that that nation had produced. There 
is therefore a possibility that the letter may have been really sent 
from Italy to Portugal, quite independently of the question who 
were the real author and recipient. 

(5) The general sense of the Second Letter, where it differs 
from the First, represents Columbus (or rather the recipient of the 
letter) as having sent to the writer valuable matters, presumably 
with reference to his own projects, in return for and in reply to 
which the writer sends (yo te invio) or has sent {10 ti tnandai) 
a map which he has pleasure in thinking will be (has been) 
understood, and expresses confidence that the voyage is not 
only possible but feasible, profitable, and honourable. He 
alludes to his own great experience, and says that he has 
spoken, " here at the Court of Rome," not only with an 
ambassador, as in the longer letter, but with merchants also 
who have lived in those countries, men of great authority. 
Another difference is that these countries are given as the 
definite end and aim of the voyage, not merely as likely to be 
reached in case of adverse winds, etc. He also states that a 
great part of the people are Christians. He alludes to the 
noble mind of his correspondent, as a distinguished example of 
the sagacious and enterprising Portuguese, and speaks of his 
heart being inflamed with desire to carry out his projected 
undertaking. I have here summed up those passages which 
are not to be found in the First Letter, making up, as I have 
stated, about a third of the bulk of the Second Letter. 


(6) There is a curious passage which, though I have counted 
it among the passages (30 lines) which correspond fairly in the 
two letters, yet appears in the longer letter with the sense 
exactly reversed. In the Second Letter it is the people of 
those parts who desire to have intercourse with Europe in order 
to come into touch with the learned men of genius in religion 
and sciences, also on account of the fame of the European 
empires and governments (regimientos). In the First Letter 
it is the Orient that is worth exploring by Europeans, not 
only for the gold and gems, but, by a sudden turn of the sense, 
because it is true that those parts possess learned men of art 
and genius who govern those distant countries and direct the 
battles, or say the regimientos in a military sense. This change 
of the seat of good government from Europe to the Far East 
is rather remarkable t 

(7) In working the substance of the Second Letter into 
the First, the phrases have not been copied literally, but rather 
taken as the themes on which new sentences have been con- 
structed. Of course allowance has to be made for changes 
incidental to translation, but this appears to have been the 
general rule. The longest verbatim phrase common to the 
Spanish versions of the two letters — that is, recognised by the 
Spanish translator as identical — is " de todas maneras de 
specieria en gran suma" (pp. 308, 323), which again occurs 
almost verbatim in a previous paragraph describing the send- 
ing of the map in the First Letter. The only other long 
phrase I notice is, "Muchas otras cosas se podrian decir " (pp. 
310, 324), the ending of which has suffered a total change, 
and still another in the translations of the First Letter. The 
longest clause giving the same connected sense appears to be 
that previously alluded to, "hombres sabios . . . batallas" 
(pp. 309, 324), with its inverted meaning. This phrase follows 
on the one just quoted (specieria) in Letter I, whereas it is 
more fittingly and logically introduced in Letter II, which is 
in its arrangement far less discursive and inconsequent than 
Letter I, and unlike that, seems to have been written by a 


man with a well-ordered mind : it appears to have 
referred to at intervals by the author of Letter I, when he 
was at a loss how lo continue. In this way we may say that 
small fragments of Letter II are found scattered through 
Letter I, but for the most part changed in form and context 
to suit the purpose of the writer, 

(8) I may here remark briefly that I regard the Italian 
texts of both letters as the better translations of the respective 
originals, the Spanish being at times faulty, and obscuring 
points which are brought out by a reference to the Italian. 
I will give the main instance of this that occurs in the Second 
Letter as illustrating my theory of the use made of the latter. 
The Latin phrase in the First Letter, quod debebit esse jucutt- 
dum salt's, which has puzzled M. Sumien (note 20, Appendix 
A), is a reproduction of the phrase in the Second Letter, 
" Ci6 sari caro etiandio a quei Re," and this phrase has 
been differently taken by every successive translator. Thus: 

Letter II, Italian : Cib sara caro etiandio a quei Re. 

Letter II, Spanish : Tambien se ira a los dichos Reyei 

Letter I, Columbine : Quod debebit esse jucundum satis. 

Letter I, Spanish : De que debeis holgar mucho. 

Letter I, Italian : I quali desiderate molto conoscere. 

The last two have understood the word tibi in the 
from which they worked, and the Italian has probably para- 
phrased the sense, a liberty rarely taken by this translator. 
No passage has undergone more change than this, while 
remaining recognisable, and it well illustrates the connection 
between the Italian of Letter II and the Columbine version. 
It also shows that the Italian cannot be a translation from the 
Spanish of Letter II, as it reproduces a phrase that was 
made use of by the compiler of Letter I, and to which the 
Spanish gives no clue. The Spanish translator has in fact 
treated this paragraph, introduced by these words, as a con- 
tinuation of the sense of the preceding one, meaning that the 
voyage will bring you to those countries . . . and to 
kings ; in the Italian a fresh thought is commenced. 




(9) To come now 10 ihe pith of the letter. The reference 
to the route in the first paragraph is curious ; U speaks of 
reaching the countries of the East by way of those of the 
West, and although this has usually been read as synonymous 
with a Western voyage, starting from Europe or the Canaries, 
yet this is not what it says. In fact it would apply more 
□early to explorations along the African coast than to a 
voyage due West, which can hardly be described as by way of 
the parts (in the sense of countries) of the West. Paragraph 
I of the Second Letter makes complete sense, even better than 
at present, if we leave out all the words from "come per la 
carta " to " bene intesa " ; this sentence then reads in English : — 
" I consider your project a noble and grand one, for going by 
sea to the Eastern countries by way of the Western ones, and 
that the said voyage is not only possible, but veritable and 
certain, and (productive) of gTeat honour and profit as well as 
of the greatest fame among all Christians." 

It may therefore be useful for the time being to bear in 
mind that the sense of the letter is complete without the 
phrases referring to the sending of the map, and to the latter 
being understood. We shall examine it without these words, 
and then consider the question of the map separately. 

(10) The Second Letter, divested of the reference to the 
map, is then written by some one in Italy, apparently in Rome, 
to some one in Portugal, presumably a Portuguese, approving a 
project of exploration of countries whose inhabitants were 
largely Christians, and where spices and gems {it is the First 
Letter that adds gold, silver, and pearls) were expected to be 
obtained. The route indicated is by way of Western Africa. 

This project appears to be absolutely the same as that 
entertained at various times by the Portuguese, with reference 
to the country of Prester John, which, as noted in your book, 
page 56, note 56, was generally classed along with the spice 
country under the general name of the Indies, It refers to 
the Portuguese search for Ethiopia along the West coast of 
Africa, and not to any transatlantic voyage at all ! In other 


words, it brings us bock to the projects re fer red to in the Bull 
of 1454 and the Treaty of 1479 (your book, pp. 58, 61, 67, etc), 
and which Joao II again took op in 1481 (page 64). As you 
lay on page 59, '■ It was not to what we now call India that the 
Portuguese desired to go, it was to the African India, Prester 
John's India, inhabited by Christian people" — described in the 
Bull of 1454 as " qui Christi oomen colere cVuntur." and of whom 
the Second Letter says, " per esse* grandc parte di lor Christian!." 

(11) The difficulty of admitting the date 1474 with regard 
to the commerce of spices disappears when dealing with the 
project of Joao IT, seeing that you say (page 66) that in 1481, 
which was the year before Toscanelli 's death, this King pro- 
jected new expeditions of which spices formed one of the 
objects- There is no doubt that in this letter there exists a 
confusion between the India of Prester John, the India of the 
spices and jewels, and the countries described by Marco Polo 
and other travellers, such as Bartolomeo Florentine and Nicola 
di Conti (page 68). 

The original of this letter might therefore be referred to 
the period 1481-1482, when the voyages under Joao II were in 
contemplation. Whether this train of reasoning affords any clue 
to the Teal author or recipient of the supposed original letter, 
I leave to be decided by those who have special knowledge of 
Portuguese relations with Rome at this period. 

(12) In the preceding remarks we have left out of 
the four lines on page 314 referring to the map, the ad van 1 
of a globe, and the question of its being understood. But 
since our conceptions of the direction of the journey to be 
undertaken have changed, we can look at the question of the 
map from a new standpoint. In the first place, the sense is 
complete without the four lines referred to ; in the second, the 
map, if, it existed, must have been one showing the lat 
geographical notions respecting the Indies, whether Asiatic 
African, and the way thither, by the "parts of the W< 
which would mean by Western Africa, and curiously enoi 
the phrase is a translation of the Carthaginian and Aral 

Ige of 




terms for North-West Africa, from which we derive Mauritania 
and Morocco. (See Vivien de Saint-Martin, Htstoire de la 
Geographies p. 34). The main difficulty is that a sphere does 
not seem so essential to the correct understanding of this map 
as of one based on the spherical shape of the earth, i.e., of the 
so-called " Toscanelli map " described in the First Letter ; the 
map of the Second Letter, admitting its existence, is a different 
map altogether. 

Taking the phrase as it stands, it is not sense to write 
" I note your project, as shown in the map I now send you," 
The sense requires "the map which you send me," or else 
"the map I sent you before." This latter is the sense of 
the Italian, and has always encouraged the supposition that 
this document was a Second Letter referring to the First 
Letter with its map of the Atlantic Ocean. Then, too, the 
letter does nol say, " I hope that the map I now send, 
or have sent, will be understood." It expressed pleasure that 
the map already sent is, that means has been, understood, 
despite the difficulty of making the matter plain without a 
globe. Taking this view, it is not necessary to reject any 
portion of the actual text of the Second Letter, and the 
only words we take exception to, or challenge, are those 
forming the superscription, stating that the letter was sent 
by Toscanelli to Columbus. 

{13) What then do we gather from the first paragraph, 
as to the correspondence referred to ? Some one in Portugal, 
largely concerned in promoting the enterprise under Joao II 
(1481-1482) had written to a person at the Pontifical Court, 
of wide information, and interested in geographical discoveries, 
such a man as, for instance, Cardinal d'Ailly had been, to know 
what was the latest intelligence brought back by travellers 
like Nicolo di Conti, and any other geographical information 
obtainable on this subject at Rome, which, as is well known, 
was the centre to which all information of importance was 
sent. This great authority had already sent a map, and has 
received (probably) further details as to the proposed enter- 


prise, which he esteems a great favour. He is tlius able 
judge of the whole project, from the nature of which it is 
evident that his map, although only a projection on a plane 
surface, has been understood, and he sees also that the enter- 
prise is genuine and certainly feasible, as well as likely to be 
productive of great profit and renown. He then proceeds in the 
remainder of the letter to emphasize certain points of special 
interest to the Roman Court, and ends with a graceful compli- 
ment at once to his correspondent and to the nation he represents. 

To obtain a correct idea of the purport of the Second 
Letter we must therefore read it without any reference to 
the First Letter, but rather having in mind the plan of Joao 
II. It would thus appear that Columbus, however he may 
have become possessed of this letter, must have been aware 
of those plans, and if the letter was addressed to him he must 
have been largely concerned in elaborating them. I do not 
suggest this, leaving the subject to those who have special 
means of testing it, but I do suggest that having obtained this 
letter, by whatever means, he derived the idea of using it (by 
concocting a false letter to represent the previous one) as 
an explanation of the sources of his alleged plans and of his 
actual map, for the origin of which he found it difficult to 
account. He also invokes the authority of Toscanelli as an 
endorsement of his alleged or ostensible views on the possi- 
bility of reaching India by the west. An interesting question 
here arises, viz. : what brings Toscanelli into the question at 
all, or what put it into any one's mind to father on him the 
whole correspondence, the cosmographic views, and the map 
alleged to illustrate them ? 

I beg to remain, dear Sir, 

Yours most respectfully, 

(Signed) John B. Shipley. 

Geneva, Dec. 21, 1901. 





I & 


ic t 





This facsimile is taken from the photographic reproductions 
of the Letter made by Mr Harrisse and the Editors of the 
Raccolta Colombtana. 

The transcription of the document is taken from M. de 
Lollis' clever restoration made for the Raccolta. The faded 
or illegible portions of the text, restored by M. de Lollis, are 
printed in italics. 



I, -.oh ^ W ■**» 4/ ,?<? 

iuj tAMsitAaitf, i **ur 

rnifau*- $■**•?'. p. Y 

4 V (Mil *^fMH«i( «•>' 
^ l" - y ' 1- ' 

fed facsimile of a. manuscript Note of Bartholo- 
' Columbus {Imago Mundi of the Colombina). 



These three facsimiles are printed in parallel columns, in 
order to facilitate comparison. 

The first is a note from the Imago Mundi on the expedi- 
tion of Bartholomew Diaz to the Cape of Good Hope, and 
is accepted by all critics as being in the handwriting of 
Bartholomew Columbus. 

The second, placed in the centre column, reproduces a 
portion of the Letter. 

The third is taken from a note on the Pliny in the 
Columbina, and is undoubtedly in the handwriting of Chris- 
topher Columbus. 






5 Degree*. 

Number of Miles 
10 the Degree 


Uzielli . 


(So at 42") 



(5° " 37') 

H. Wagner . 


(50 at 4 i - ) 

1 !t 4 

Another Calculation 




Letter to Martins : 
and J 


(5o " 334") 



(50 at .8-) 

i ■ ° 
1 is ast 


Marinus of Tyre 

62 J 
equal to 



Ptolemy . 

Alfragan, adopted by 



Bessel, 1836 . 

LFaye, 1894 





In the discussion on the different standards of measurement 
applicable to the so-called Toscanelli Map no notice was taken 
of the mathematical relation existing between the length of 
the degree at the Equator and on the parallel of Lisbon 
which at that time was placed on the 41° north latitude. If 
on this parallel the degree measures 50 miles, as the letter 
would appear to indicate, it follows as a matter of course that 
on the Equator it cannot be reckoned either at 67^ miles, or at 
62J miles, or at 565 miles, but simply and solely at 66§ miles, 
as Herr Wagner has shown. 

In the text we have admitted that the author of the 
Letter and Map, who, in our opinion, was not a man of learn- 
ing, may have been ignorant of the exact proportion between 
the length of the degree at the Equator and at the different 
parallels ; but this is merely an hypothesis justified, we think, 
by the trifling value of these documents. 

If the exact mathematical relation between the standard 
adopted for the measurement of the degree along the Great 
Circle and of the degree along the parallel where, according 
to the Letter, it only measures 50 miles, is to be maintained, 
this parallel must be shifted each time the standard is changed, 
and this is just what D'Avezac and Uzielli have done. M. 



D'Avezac, who adopted Ptolemy's standard of 6i| mill 
compelled to lower the parallel having 26 spaces each of 250 
miles, mentioned in the Letter, to the 37th degree (Lagos or 
Cape St. Vincent), because that is the only north latitude 
where the degree measures 50 miles if at the Equator it is 
reckoned at 62A miles. For the same reason Signer Uzielli 
raises the parallel in question to latitude 42°, because it is 
only there that the degree measures 50 miles if it is reckoned 
at 67I miles on the Equator. 

But these changes are arbitrary. Those who make them 
suppose that the author of the Letter wished to refer to 
the parallel that must be followed in order to reach Quinsay 
when he says that from Lisbon to that town there are 36 
spaces of 250 miles each, and accordingly they fix the point 
of departure at either Lagos or Cape St. Vincent with M 
D'Avezac, or at Cape Finisterre with Signer Uzielli. The 
text of the Letter authorizes neither of these views, for all 
that one finds therein bearing on the matter is the mention, 
in one passage, of the isles whence one should set forth, and, 
in another, of the 26 spaces there are between Lisbon arid 
Quinsay. If therefore strict regard is paid to the text, it is 
from the Canary Isles (no others answer to the description) 
or from Lisbon one must start to reach the Indies, and not 
either from Lagos or Cape St. Vincent, and still less from Cape 

We may add that several reasons exist for thinking the 
author of the Letter did not place Quinsay on the same parallel 
as Lisbon. One is that this city actually lies nearly 10 
degrees further south ; another, and a very marked one, is 
that the Letter itself states that Quinsay is in the province 
of Mangi, near to Cathay, i.e., in Southern China, whereas 
were it placed on the parallel of Lisbon it would be in Cathay 
*>., Northern China. Finally, when in his search for Cipangu 
Columbus found himself in front of Cuba, he wrote in his 
Journal (1st November 1492): "I have before me Zaiton and 
Quinsay," which suffices to prove he did not think that city 



lay on the same parallel as Lisbon. Therefore the mention 
made in the Letter of the 26 spaces which divide Lisbon 
from Quinsay in a straight line does not necessarily imply 
that reference is made to the same parallel. 

To sum up ; only two hypotheses are admissible for the 
reconstruction of the Map : either the author of the Letter 
wished to point out that the course he recommended was the 
parallel of Lisbon, viz., the 41st, which was the one on which 
Lisbon was then placed, and in this case the Equatorial degree 
measured 66§ miles, as Hermann Wagner has demonstrated ; 
or the parallel of Gomera — the 28th — and then the Equatorial 
degree measured 56$ miles. We think it is in the latter 
sense that the Map must be understood, for the Letter states 
that it is from the Isles, i.e., the Canaries, the expedition must 
set out ; furthermore Columbus, who did in fact lay a course 
from these isles, over and over again affirms that the Equa- 
torial degree consists of 56JJ miles, while the parallel which 
he selected and followed — the a8th — is precisely the one on 
which the degree measures 50 miles if it is reckoned at 56$ 
miles on the Equator. 

The Table shows at a glance the results obtained from the 
various methods of understanding the measures mentioned 
in the Letter to Martins. 




The Projection of the Map. — The projection on which the 
so-called Toscanelli Map was made has attracted the attention 
of many geographers. Great scientific interest existed on decid- 
ing this point so long as it was believed that this famous Map was 
the work of a learned astronomer, and that it dated from 1474. It 
is clear that if, at that early date, some one had constructed a Map 
answering to the description given of it in the Letter to Martins, 
i.e., a graduated marine chart, its author was justly entitled to be 
considered one of the founders of modern cartography. But if, 
as we think we have shown, the Letter and the Map which is its 
complement are later by a quarter of a century than the date attri- 
buted to them ; if the Map, instead of being the expression of a 
new scientific conception of the world illustrated by a freshly 
devised graphic process, is simply an ordinary one containing 
absolutely nothing unusual either in principle or in form ; if, in 
a word, it merely represents the geographical ideas of Columbus, 
ideas formed after his discovery, and picked up by chance reading 
without any scientific cohesion, then the question of its projection 
loses all importance, and we have only to search for what infor- 
mation it may contain relative to distances and to the points of 
departure and arrival. 

lie the only fact* which an interest us to-day, and in 

uke them dew a modern map is preferable to a map 

hypothetical projection. Probabilities 

r been Ptolemy's, modified by 

that the 1478 and 1450 editions 

drawn, a copy of the former 

c sagnatm-e of Columbus, forming part 

Bat from our standpoint this is a 

t a* MUJfcwaue. Saw therefore, strictly speaking, a 

• .. :* c-k Map we propose giving, but a map which 

* IT had famed of the Atlantic, and by what 

1 Mar.— The Latin text says simply that 

m and tfce bland* from which you may 

* «4W^.'* The Spanish and Italian versions say : 

■> j* the. West, starting from Ireland southwards 

" Gaines, at that period, embraced all the 

The Map is therefore limited to the 

— JMtt of Ireland, to the south by the 

*«ttt hw the meridian of Lisbon, and to the west 

. — The first meridian of the Map 
t Willi, havawse all the information respecting dis- 
* the Letter has reference to that citv. Were 
i sAmvb * «an!4 have to be the isle of Ferro, since 
we have shown to be 
in the Letter, reckoned all his 
»A ts the most westerly of the 

•AnMBKfc PajbiUSl*.— These two parallels are those 
. rd .* the Canaries, the :8th, both of which 
wi * the t «ttw. They are drawn with an indication 
iL i. 1 1 i'-1 wtMtwt to chat of the Equator. 

' .,,. it iiv«d*4 <nco m spaces of 5 degrees 

, •> at the bvttvot of the Map. The Eqna- 

v*tt> tevkvned at 5Ȥ whs, and practically 



at 60 miles, or 15 leagues. That is Columbus' measurement. 

In the scale shown at the top of the Map the degree is reckoned, 
as in ordinary maps, at the rate of 20 leagues. 

The object being to show the distances covered, according to 
the different methods of reading the Letter attributed to Tos- 
canelli and the measurements of Columbus, it was impossible to 
give a uniform scale to the Map. Distances vary with the length 
of the degree on the various parallels, and this length is in 
proportion to that attributed to the degree at the Equator. If, 
for example, we 6nd that it is on the 41st parallel that the 
26 spaces of 5 degrees separating Lisbon from Quinsay each 
measured 250 miles, or 50 miles to the degree, then we must 
give 66§ miles to the Equatorial degree. 

But if we bring the same parallel to the 28° north latitude, 
then the Equatorial degree will only measure 56JJ miles. 

The Isles. — The Latin text speaks incidentally of the isles, 
and seems to mean thereby those lands so fertile in spices and 
precious stones which are the object of the journey. The Spanish 
and Italian versions give this sense to the phrase. The Map 
therefore shows, at haphazard, islands in the neighbourhood of 
Zaiton. Marco Polo places there a very great number. 

The islands placed near to Cipangu are not mentioned in the 
Letter ; but Las Casas says that the Map he attributes to Tos- 
canelli indicates a great number at that spot (Historia, vol. I., 

p. 316). 

AbitlfeDA, says Sofala is in India, 
note 5,6 ' reports the results of 
Caliph Almamoun's eiperiments, 
note 87 ; declares Arabs diminish 
ihe circumference, note 91. 

ACOSTA, Jose de, story of the Pilot, 
noleii5; says his name is unknowD, 
note 117. 

ALxzas Sylvius (Pius 1 1), his Histina 
Rtrum Ubiqut Gtstarum annotated 
hy Columbus, and a transcription 
of the Letter to Martins is found 
on one of it! fly leaves, pp. Cf-ia, 
note 104 ; Bartholomew also anno- 
tated this work, note 157, pp. 1 £4, 
160, 245, 270. 

Aim*, Cardinal Pierre d', mention* 
Ahmed Ben Kebir under his sur- 
name of Atfragan, note 87 j speaks 
of Esdras' view of the sine of the 
earth, notes 94, 95 ; Columbus 
learnt from him the views of 
Alfragan, p. 93, note to! ; what 
Columbus says of him, note 104 ; 
quoted by Ferdinand Culumbus, 
p. 97 i Columbus found in his work 
the principal elements of his system, 
p. 98, note 107 ; annotated by 
Bartholomew Columbus, p. 154 ; 

ALBERT'S, d', accepts the 67} standard 


1 the 

tall ] 

■ v-m 

separating the extremities of the 
known world, p. 181; mentions the 
numerous islands around Cipangu, 
p. 312; his Image iiundi, notes 107 
and 108. 
Albert], Leone Baitisia, does not 
mention Toscanelli's scheme, p. 43. 

1. 195. 

Alberto de Sarteano, Ethiopian 
ambassador, note 18, Appendix A. 

Alca-joVas, treaty of, between Span- 
iards and Portuguese, 1479, pp. 62 

Ai.DeretE, Bamnrdo de, accepts the 

Pilot story, note 119. 
Alexander the Great, Columbus 

thinks Aristotle may have leamt 

much from him, note 9:. 
ALEXANDER VI (Borgia), Columbus' 

lost work was written for him, p. 
164 ; his line of demarcation, note 

i about the iea- 

that information, p. 22 ; knew Marco 
Polo's account of his voyages, pp. 
*<3, >7i 30 ; loses the battle of 
Toro, 1476, pp. 34, 37, 38, 44, 54 ; 
does little to encourage exploration, 
pp. 60-61 ; makes no reservations in 
the Treaty of Alcacovas to show that 
he had any idea of going to the 
Indies, p. 64; his political com- 
binations, pp. 66-67 ; had a right 
to expect more authentic news from 
Toscanelli than is contained 
Letter, pp. 68, 141, 151 ; mi 
to him, p. 171; had constructed a 
reproduction of Fra Maura's pli 
sphere, pp. 186, 195, 343 ilua. 
Alfragan (Ahmed Ben Kebir), his 

t of the rank, pp. to 
■a aeecwt of Wa ud 
mm* S7. S9; an mile. 
• «■; Co* * » b a*i aptml* is fail 

km v*w* f™ MB*, p. «. M. 
10 Ihr J^im. M9L 

Amino, Jacupo, tiuaaatea Ptoreory, 
printed i»ts. p. j*. 

AMTtUA, u imatinary ia'and in the 
Atlantic, note It; ifvni 00 the 
Glob* of lltliaivn. p. iff; ittpotjlioti 
it not (i*«« in the Letter, p. 105 ; 
infoimatioo about it. pp. »&, 107, 
317, note 40 of Appendii A. 

AmstOTii, hi* opinion a* to craning 
the Atlantic, note 66 J quoted by 
dAilly. not* «. 

AWSto, Joaquin Tone*, it misled bjr 
the interpolation to Sacrobowo'i 
J^iawt, note 44; think* the copy 
oi the Letter ii in the handwriting 
ol Columbui, note 1 57; *«epts the 
Pilot Mory, note 119. 

AtmusTlNK. Saint, Columbui quote* 
hi* MMirliT of risdraa, note* 95. 
IOJ ; quoted by Oriedo p. 110. 

AvkbkhiUS, quoted by J'.Vily, note 


AVKXAC D', conieit* Hairiise'* claim 
to the dtwm ■ "i 1 

pp. lo-II ; awards Tiwcauelli the 
Credit of beiriK ine inuuior of the 
discovery of the Sew World, note 
14 ; hi* vie* a* to the date of the 
correipondence, p. Jf, note* 21, S5 : 
on Don Luis' *hare in the publi- 
cation of the Hiitorir, note 169; 
doubts whether the Florentine sketch 

lit a map was similar to the one ami 
to Columbui, pp. 173-174; main- 
tains that the Toscanelli Map ni 
composed of converging meridiani, 
p. IBS ; hi* opinion on the measure- 
ment of Toscanelli'* degree, p. 193. : 
hit discuuion with Varnhagen, p. 

Axasjbuja, Diogo d'. builds the fort 
of San Jorge da Mina in Guinea, 
note 81. 

Azubaba, ii only authentic source 
for Prince Henry** expeditions, p. 
54 ; lays nothing about the Spice 
Trade, p. 65. 

Bacon, Roger, d'Ailly copies what he 
sap about Alfragan. note 87. 

Bai.iaso Db Fornari, receive* the 
MS. of the Hatorir and givei it to 
Marini to publish in 1571, note '69. 

BaKCIA. lays the Toscanelli Letter was 
in Latin, p. tl ; hii Spanish version 
of it. p, 16. 

BaRBOS. Joao de, is ignorant of 
Tos- .inelli's proposal, p. 38; doe* 
not mention Prince Henry's inten- 
tion to go to the Indie*, p 54 ; his 
view about Presler John, notl 56, 
S7, 6j ; mentions Joseph the Jew, 
note 88; ii quoted by Las Casas, 
pp. 157. Jj6. 

Barros e Vasconceixos, de, calls 
attention to assertions made in the 
Letter, note 1; ; ii first to point out 
the error about the Spice Trade, 

Bartolommeo F to be NT i NO, could gnen Toscanelli later informa- 
tion about the Fast than appears 
in the Letter, p. 68. 

BAlTOLnSZI, "peaks of an edition of 
Alfrigm which apparently has 1 
existed, note 87, 

Basnaoe, say* Church historian! 
F.thiopia India, note 56. 

Bastidas, Rodrigo, one of the 
discoverers, p. [10. 

BASTO, sends author a description of 
the Treaty of Alcacovas, note 61. 

BEAZLEY, credit Prince Henry with 
modern ideas, note 53. 

BEHAIM, Martin, hii Globe, pp. 174- 
175 ; thought to be a duplicate of the 
Toscanelli Map, pp. I So rl sty. ; they 
express the same conception and 
ideas, p. 180; account of all exist- 
ing copies of his Globe, note 171, 
pp. 191, 204; indicates position of 
Antilia, p, 206 ; places Cipangu 
only Jo degrees from the mainland, 
note 205 ; shows many islands 
around Cipangu, p. 211. 

Benincasa, his Poitolano marks 


BENZON1, the story of the Piloi, note 

B brunch I ERi, Francesco, published 
a geography at time of Toseanelii's 
death, but does not mention his 
scheme, p. 41. 

Bernaldez, Columbus tells him how 
his scheme originated, Maude villi 
therein taking the prominence pos- 
terity has given to Toscanelli, who 
is not even mentioned, note jo ; says 
Columbus knew but little Latin, p. 
93 ; tells us his friend was born in 
1436, p. 26 1. 

mention Toseanelii's scheme, p. 43. 

BESSARION, Cardinal John, reported he 
possessed a map whereon were marked 
the newly-found regions, p. 41. 

Bianco, his Pcrtolano (1436) marks 
the position of Antilia, p. 106. 

BlRARDO. Lorenzo, the Florentine 
merchant through whom Columbus 
(according to Las Casas) corre- 
sponded with Toscanelli. Accord- 
ing to the Halorit his name was 
Girardi, p. 31. 

BlSTICCI, Vespasiano da, a learned 
Florentine bookseller, says nothing 
of Toseanelii's scheme, p. 42. 

BONNEFOUS, his reading of " ha dias," 

Bossi, thinks Columbus on the 1492 
voyage was guided by the Letter 
and Map, p. 111. 

sar iS i 

BOLL of 1.154, source of all the terri- 
torial concessions made by (he Holy 
See to the Portuguese, p. 58 ; true 
meaning of these c 

Cesar Nero, Columbus thinks 
Seneca may have learnt much from 
him, note 95. 

CaLMET, Dom, dissertation on Esdias, 
note 94. 

Cambalu (Peking), note 6 ; is on Fra 
Mauro's planisphere, p. 186; and on 
the Catalan Map, p. 187, 

Caro, Rodiigo, accepts the Pilot story, 
note 139, 

Carpin, Jean Plan, introduced the 
name of Cathay to Europe in 1253, 
note 6; visited China while it was 
under the Mongol power, p. 69. 

Cathay, the ancient name of China, 
p. 24; note 6, pp. 68, 79; residence 
ol the Great Khan, note 105 ; figures 
on the Behaim Globe, p. 182 ; is 
called on Fra Mauro's planisphere 
Chataio, p. 186 ; It is on the Catalan 
Map, p. 187 ; if this name really 
occurred in the Log-book Las Casas 
handled, it was an interpolation 
made at a later period, p. Z41. 

CAZAL, Father Ayres de, calls the 
Pilot Frandsco, note 117 i accepts 
the story, note I2g. 

Charles V, ennobles the Pinion 
family, p. 233. 

Chfnghis Khan, founded the Mongol 
power in China, Ilo6, p. 69. 

CHRISTMAS, translated Alfragan, note 

Cipangu (Japan), notes 12, 70, p. too; 
figures on the Globe of Behaim, p. 
181 ; according to the Letter and 
Map, rts situation was in part over 
the American continent, pp. 103, 
zoj i it is identified with Japan, p. 
107 ; its position according to the 
Letter and Map, pp. 207 rl i/f. ■ 
Columbus mistakes Cuba and His- 
paniola for it, pp. 209, no; was 
known to the West only through 

352 IND 

Marco Polo, note 30$ , Columbus 
searches for it, note 206 ; tbe Map 
showed innumerable islands around 
it, pp. Ill, 238 ; if it really Appeared 
in Columbus' Log-book, it was an 
interpolation made at a later period, 
p. Hi, note 41 of Appendix A. 
Cladeka, his reading of " ha dias," 

CLB1RAC, says the Pilot was 1 Basque 

from France, note 117. 
COLOMHIHA, a collection of books and 
manuscripts at Seville formed by 
Ferdinand Columbus, p. 9 ; Las 
Casas had access to it, pp. 145, 146, 
Colombo, Baldassare, bis reading 

of "ha diu," note jo. 
Colombos (the two), these Admirals 
were not related to Columbus, p. 
163 ; one of them tried to capture 
the vessel in which he first sailed to 
Portugal, pp. 365-304. 
Colon, Diego, his lawsuit against the 
Crown, p. 1 37 ; possesses bis father's 
pipers, note 'SS; is second Admiral 
of the Indies, pp. 144, 1 ;7, 259. 
C01.6N, Luis, inherits his grandfather's 
papers, note 155 1 is third Admiral 
of the Indies, and first Duke of 
Veragua, p. 144; becomes sole 
owner of all the Columbus family 
papers, p. 1451 returns to Spain, 
1550, p. 146; his connection with 
the forgery discussed, pp. 147 tt 
itij. ; accused of giving the forgeries 
to Las Casas, pp. 16J-168 ; conveys 
to the Italian publishers the manu- 
script for the fJistoru, p. 164 ; 
documents vanished when they came 
inlo his hands, note 168 ; Spotorno 
says he was in Genoa in 1568, note 
169; probably the revival of the 
Pilot story by Oviedo and Giimara 
incited him to reveal the forged 
documents, pp. 166-167; probably 
found the Toscaoelli Letter to 
Columbus among the family papers, 
p. tjf. 
CoLUMBOS, Bartholomew, his curious 

map, note 98 ; Las Cans possessed 
his papers, p. 14], note 155, p. 146 ; 
his spelling, note 157 ; bis connec- 
tion with the forgery discussed, pp. 
153 tt st}.; his motives, p. 159; 
probable date of the forgery, pp. 
160-16] ; knew Behaim's work, p. 
1ST J his map does not show 
Cipangu, liayti occupying its place, 
note ao6 ; map proves Columbus 
never knew he had landed on a 
new Continent, p. 115 ; Wiesei 
discovers his map, notes Ho, 14S ; 
how he set the Toscanelli myth 
afloat, p. 2jS ; only presumptions 
can be urged against him, p. 173. 
COLUMBUS, Christopher, passim, false 
impressions about and results of 
critical research, pp. 3 tt stq . ; dis- 
covery of a copy of the Letter in 
his supposed handwriting, p. 10 ; 
his supposed relations with Tos- 
canelli, pp.11 tt stf. ; Duke Hercules 
d'Este's inquiries, p. 40 ; his cos- 
mographical views and those of the 

Letter are the sime, pp. 79 " «f- ; 

80 tt iff. ; rejects Ptolemy's correc- 
tion of Marinus, p. 89 ; origin of his 
Ideas, pp. 91 tt stf. ; bis ideas arc 
incorporated into the Letter, p. 98 ; 
his system dales after the discovery, 
pp. 99 it stq. ; mistakes Cuba and 
Hsyti for Japan, note 12 ; his letters 
to Toscanelli have disappeared, pp. 
;6 (/ uq. ; was very communicative, 
p. 48 ; speaks as though be had 
constructed the Map, p. 49; ignores 
Toscanelli, note SO ; learnt AJfra.- 
gan'i views in d'Ailly, note 87 ; his 
nautical observations, note 89; was 
without the necessary qualifications, 
p. 84 ; adopts Esdras' views, pp. 86 
tt srq., notes 94-95 ; his dreams, 
note 100; genesis of his ideas, pp. 
ytttttq. \ leans about the East in 
Marco Polo, p. 95 ; that he owes every- 
thing to Toscanelli is quite a modern 
idea, p. 97 ; he found the principal 
elements of hi= system in the Imago 

Slxndi. p. 98 ; his system is posterior 
to his discovery, pp. gg tl stq. ; the 
fraud was committed in his interest, 
pp. 10S it stq. ; gets his information 
from a pilot, pp. log it stq. ; thought 
he sighted land on the 35th Sep- 
tember, note 14S ; Las Casas Erst 
states Toseanelli corresponded with 
him, p. 141 ; his papers kept at 
Las Cuevas, p. 143 ; did he copy 
the letter > note 157 ; his MS. on 
the line of demarcation has dis- 
appeared, note 168 ; knew Behaim's 
work, p, i8i , he reckoned distances 
by the Italian mile of four to the 
degree, pp. 301 el stq. ; deceives 

p. 20S ; his search for Cipangu 
fjnpsn), pp. 207 tl stq.; decides it 
is Hispaniola, note 106 ; when off 
Cuba and Hayti he thought he was 
near the mainland, pp. 113 */ stq, ; 
his faith in the Map, notes 211-212, 
pp. 230 tl stq.; does not say his 
rood-map was Toscanelh's, pp. 222 
it stq. ; takes his bearings on the 
road-map, 25th September, p. 336 
it stq. ; after this he makes do 
further use of the road-map, p. 232 ; 
his road-map showed the discoveries 
of the Pilot, p. 339; he cuts adrift 
from the intrigue, p. 258 ; deserves 
blame for his meanness towards the 
Pilot, pp. 259-260; his tergiversa- 
tions, pp. 35o It stq.; his true 
history, pp. 262 tl stq. ; first thought 
about the Indies when sailing among 
the Antilles, p. 367; story of his 
scientific preparation is a pure in- 
vention, pp. 167 tl stq. 
ConJMB05,Ferdinand,/flJJj>n, criticism 
on the value of his history of his 
father, p. 2 ; he is not the chief source 
of the legends about his father, p. 4 ; 
the publication of the Histerit attri- 
buted to him, p. 30 ; his account of 
the relations of Columbus with 
Toseanelli, pp. 31 */ stq. ; is in 
error when makes Aristotle say the 
Atlantic can be crossed in a few 


days, note 66 ; refers to his father's 
calculation of the degree, note 89 ; 
his account of his father accepting 
Alfragan's view, note 98; explains 
his father's system, note 99 ; omits 
to mention Toseanelli among the 
authors of his father's scientific 
reasons, p. 97 ; became possessor of 
the Imago Mundi, note 107 ; the 
story of the Pilot, note 115, pp. 130 el 
stq. ; the Historit is copied from Las 
Casas, pp. 139// stq. ; is the family 
archivist, p. 144; dies, 1539, and 
leaves his collections to Lufs Colon, 
pp. 144-145 ; his papers go to 
Seville Cathedral, 1552, p. 145; his 
connection with the forgery dis- 
cussed, pp. 152 ti stq. ; bis memoir) 
of his father disappeared in the 
hands of Lufs Colon, pp. 166, 344 ; 
refraiDB from saying whence came 
the correspondence, p. 247 ; is one of 
the chief disseminators of the legend, 
p. 261 ; hides the date of bis father's 
birth so as not to give a clue to 

Conti, Nicolo de, his account may 

have furnished items for ihe letter 

to Martins, p. 24 ; description of 

Quinsay, note 9. 
Cokdeiro, Lucien, on the story of the 

Pilot, note 125. 
Cdrsier, his derivation of Cathay, 

note 6 ; says Quinsay is now Hang- 

Chau, uote 9. 
Couto, Jose 1 Ferrer de, accepts the 

Pilot story, note 129. 
CteSIAS, Columbus appeals to his 

authority, note 99. 
Cuba, Columbus mistakes it for 

Cathay, notes 5, 7 ; mistakes it for 

Cipangu, p. 209. 
C-i's.1. Cardinal de, Toseanelli and 

Roriz witness his will, note 24 ; in 

Dante de Rinaldi, Pier Vtncenzo, 
translated Holywood's SftAtrt, pp. 

354 mi 

DaNTI, Egnalio, re-edits Holywood's 
S fieri and in let palsies s passage 
lo give weight to the Toscanelli- 
Columbus correspondence, pp. 44 
tt itj. 

DAT),, wrote a poem on the 
discovery of the New World, yet say* 
nothing about Toscanelli's scheme, 

Dklamijre, analyses Alfragau's work, 
note 87. 

Denis, Ferdinand, his article Sdnektt, 

Diaz, Vineeme, said to be the hero of 
the Pilot story, note 115, p. 130, 
note i 4 j. 

Doppelmavr, hit copperplate plan of 
Behaim s Globe, note 171. 

Duc£r£, thinks the Pilot was Juan de 
LaCosa, note II?. 

Duko, Cesareo Fernandez, his share in 
the D'Avezac-Harrisse controversy, 
p. 13 ; sends author an extract from 
the Spanish text of the Treaty of 
Alcacovas, notes 61, 115; on the 
Pilot, note 124; thinks Columbus 
copied the Letter, note 157; has 
published the text of the permit 10 
print Columbus' Journal, note 168. 

ENCISO. approves of the 66§ standard, 
p. I9*. 

Eratosthenes, bis opinion as to 
crossing the Atlantic, note 67 ; 
thinks the habitable world is one- 
third of the globe, p. 71. 

Escobar, Fiske thinks Columbus sailed 
with him to Guinea in 1471, but 
Columbus had not then left Genoa, 
note Si. 

Esdras, his view as to the volume of 
the earth adopted by Columbus, pp. 
86 tt iif. ; notes 94-95 ; p. 93 and 

Este, Duke Hercules d', inquires 
about the Toscanelli - Columbus 
correspondence, p. 40 tt itq. ■ his 
hearing of the correspondence ex- 
plained, pp. 160, 244 ; his know- 
ledge thereof is difficult 

with fact* proved in this work, [ 
?S3 ! * possible explanation of this 
difficulty, pp. 270-171. 

Et.'DES. can find no trace of the Pilot 
in the Portuguese Archives, note 117. 

Eugenius IV, notes )6, 28 of Appen- 
dix A. 

FaYE, on the measurement of the 
globe, notes 85, 91, and p. 101. 

Ferdinand and Isabella, are credited 
with giving Columbus letters for the 
Gteat Khan, note 5 ; 'ears lest they 
should believe the Pilot's story, p. 
134; their bargain with Columbus, 
pp. 135 tt Hf.\ Diego Colon's suit 
against them, p. 137, note 150. 

Fernandez, Valentin, translates 
Marco Pole, 1502, and doubts 
Dom Pedro having brought a copy 
to Lisbon, pp. 33-14; publishes 
Conti's Narrative, note 18 of 
Appendix A. 

Fernandez v Velasco, Josi, shows 
Hatrisse the Colombina Collection, 
p. 9 ; claims lo have known the 
Latin text, p. 10 ; his share in the 
D'Aveaac-Harrissc controversy, pp. 

Ferreras, J. de, accepts the Pilot's 

story, note IZ9. 
FlSlNO, Marsilio, wrote much on 

geography, sneaks of Atlantis, yet 
i Toscanelli's scheme. 

Fiske, transcribes Italian text, p, 15; 
hi* reading of " ha dias," note 10 ; 
his view as to the date of the corre- 
spondence, p. 3-5 ; thinks Columbus 
went to Guinea with Santarem and 
Escobar, note 82 ; has reproduced 
Peschel's map, p. t7S ; his reproduce 
tion of the Globe of Bebaim on 
Mercator's projection, note 17a; 
thinks Columbus was guided on the 
1492 voyage by the Letter and Map, 
p. 132 ; is wrong saying Columbus 
first reached Portugal in 1470, p. 

ihe D'Avezac-Harrisse controversy, Gray, Thomas, quotation from his 

Fructooso, G., the story of the Pilot, 
note IIS; f" sl to assign it a date, 
note i in; cays the Pilot's nime is 
unknown, p. 117. 

Gaffakel, docs not believe the Pilot 

story, note 128. 
GALLO, speaks of the education of 

Bartholomew Columbus, p. 153. 
Garcia, Gregorio, the story of the 

Pilot, note US. 
Garcilaso be la Vega, the story of 

the Pilot, pp. 1 10 el stg. ; alone gives 

il a reasonable date, note Il6; says 

the Pilot was Alonso Sanchez, note 

Gaxibav, E., the story of the Pilot, 

GELC1CH, Engine, attacks the genuine- 
ness of the Letter, note 15. 

Ghillanv, his memoir on the Globes 
of Behaim and of Schoner contains 

a plan drawn by Heidcdoff, note 
173; his larger work on Behaim 
gives a copy of the Globe in two 
hemispheres, ibid. ; he places An- 
tilia at 50 degrees from Lisbon, p. 
306 1 position of Cipangu, note aoj. 

Gigot de Grandpre., employed by 
the author in painting his reproduc- 
tion of the Globe of Behaim, note 

Gomara, Is a questionable authority, 
p. 3 ; says Ethiopia is the country 
of Prester John, note 56; the story 
of the Pilot, pp. no it Uft\ gives 
no date to the story, note 116 ; says 
Pilot's name is not known, note 117 ; 
reproduced the story in the 1552-3-4 
editions of his History giving it a 
turn unfavourable to Columbus, pp. 
166, 337, H°> *JIi 

Gomeka, island from which Columbus 
laid his course westward, p. 111. 

Gomes, expected to reach the ladles 
when exploring Gambia, p. 58. 

Gravier, joins in the d'Avezac- 
Harrisse controversy, pp. 11-12. 

GuanahaNI, first land discovered by 
the expedition, p. 109; believed to 
be Walling Island, note 224; dis- 
covered by chance, p. S67. 

Guinea, see note 7 of Appendix- A. 

Gijnthes, publishes a reduction of 
Ruge's Globe of Behaim, note 172. 

GtjbmaN, Juan Perez de, does not be- 
lieve the Pilot story, note 118. 

" HA DlAS," disquisition on this ex- 
pression which has misled so many 
authorities as to the date of the 
supposed correspondence, note 20. 

Harrisse, Henry, has destroyed many 
Columbian legends, p. 4 ; discovers 
copy of the Latin Letter at Seville, 
1871, pp. 9-10 i controversy respect- 
ing the discovery thereof, pp. 9-13 ; 
thinks additions to Spanish text have 
been borrowed from the Map, pp. IS, 
30; his reading of "ha dias," note 

io ; his view its to the date of the 

correspondence, p. 34 ; his treatment 
of the interpolation to the Sphere, 
note 44 ; believes Prince Henry 
sought to reach the Indies by the 
east, p. S3 ; his reading of the Bull 
of 1454, note 61 ; thinks Imago 
Afmdi was printed in 1490, note loS; 
on the Pilot, p. 116; thinks later 
writers all borrowed the story from 
Oviedo, p. 120 ; his opinion on the 
identity of Marchena, note 144 ; on 
Las Casas' authoiities, note 153; 
thinks the copy of the latter is in the 
handwriting of Columbus, note 1 5,7 ; 
thinks the lost work was the original 
text of Columbus' Journal, note 
168 ; shows Don Luis could not 
have gone to Italy in 1568, note 
169; thinks Columbus knew he 
had discovered a new Continent, p. 
al5 ; publishes Bartholomew's 
account of the discovery of Ver- 
agua, note 210; the road-map of 
Columbus, p. 121 ; his rendering 
of the ambiguous phrase as to the 



authorship of the road-map, 

ltS ; ia wrong in saying Columbus 

firs! reached Portugal in 1474, p. 364. 

Heidedoff, his plan of the Globe of 
Behaim, note 171, 

Henao, G. de, says the Pilot was a 

HENRY THE Navigator, his explora- 
tions, pp. S3 */ uq.; never thought 
of going to the East Indies, p. £4 : 
the Bull of I4S4 explains his object, 

note fit. 

Herreka, says Columbus and Behaim 
were friends, p. 181. 

HlSPANtOLA (Hayti), Alonso Sanchez 
is believed to have landed there, 
cole 110 ; the Pilot story originated 
there, note 130; many of the men 
who accompanied Columbus settled 
there, uote 1 35 ; it was a hotbed of 
intrigues, p. 134 ; seat of Maria de 
Toledo's Vice-royalty, she dies there 
on nth May 1549, p. 163 ; Colum- 
bus mistakes it for Cipangu, p. llo ; 
Pinion's part in its discovery, pp. 
134. *49. 

Hoeffek, his reading of " ha dias," 

Holy wood, John. See Sacrobosco. 

Hubbard, his reconstruction of the 
1474 map, p. 176. 

Hugues, L., accepts the 67} standard, 
P- 195- 

HuiiboLDT, Baron Alexander, has 
misunderstood causes leading to the 
discovery of America, p. 6 ; misled 
by Spanish version, p. 16 ; says 
Toscanelli had suggested sea-route 
to Portuguese before 1474, p. 11 ; 
says in thirteenth century Eastern 
Asiatic commerce was divided be- 
tween Quinsay and Zayton, p. 15 ; 
his opinion of Toscanelli's influence 
on Columbus, note 14 ; believed Tos- 
canelli first corresponded with Col- 
umbus about 1474, p. 31 ; his read- 
ing of "ha dias," note So; exposes 
d'Ailly's plagiarising Roger Bacon, 
note 87 ; thinks Alfragan increased 
the circumference, note 91; on 

Esdras, note 94; what Colui 
borrowed from the Imago i 
note 107 ; thinks Imago A ' 
printed in 1490, note 106 ; d 
believe the Pilot story, note 1 
p. 190; changes his opinion as to 
the road-map of Columbus, p. ill ; 
is wrong in saying Columbus 6nt 
arrived in Portugal in 1470, p. 164. 

Imago Mcndi, Columbus borrows 
largely from this work by Cardinal 
d'Ailiy, note 107. 

India, the various Indiaa described, 
p. SS. 

Irving, Washington, has misunder- 
stood causes leading to the discovery 
of America, p. 6 ; his reading of " ha 
dias," note 20 ; on the Pilot, p. 116 ; 
thinks Columbus was guided in 1491 
by the Toscanelli Map and Letter, p, 
ill 1 is wrong in saying Columbus 
first reached Portugal in 1470, p. 164. 

Jimenez de la Espada, has published 

the text of the permit to print the 
Journal of Columbus, note 168. 

Joao II, note 31, p. 37; Columbui 
visits him, p. 38 ; before his day the 
Portuguese only sought for the India 
of Prester John, p. 53 ; ascends the 
throne in 14X1, p. 64; the Spice 
Trade began in his reign, p. 66 ; his 
physician was Joseph the Jew, note 
88 ; Columbus makes proposals to 
him, pp. 118 - 119 ; ascends the 
throne in 1481, pp. 151, 147 ; 
pursued with haired the Bragann 
party, hence Columbus' flight trout 
Portugal, p. 364. 

JOHN OF Sbville, translated Alfriv- 
gan's work, note 87. 

John of Westphalia, sole printer of 
the Imago M*ndi, note 10S. 

Jomard, orders Miiller to construct 
the Paris copy of the Globe of 
Bebaim, note 171 ; Antilia is located 
thereon near the Equator, and San 
Brandan does not appear, p. 
position of Cipangu, note 205. 


JORDAKOS, Friar, places Prester John 

in Ethiopia, note 56. 
Joseph the Jew, details about him, 

notes 8 8-89. 

Kahcha dales, nomads o[ the Steppes, 
note 6. 

Khan, Great, Columbus pretended be 
carried a letter to him from the 
Catholic Kings on his first voyage, 
p. 34. note S, p. 68 ; in 1474 more 
than a century had elapsed since 
there was a Great Khan in China, 
p. 69 ; details about him, note 105, 
p. 100 ; the letter story is solely 
based on a statement made by 
Columbus long after the event, p. 
j 66, note 33, Appendix A. 

Kiepert, H., his reproduction of the 
Globe of Behaim, note 17a. 

Kretschmer, his reconstruction of the 
1474 map, p. 17J ; published a re- 
production of Ruge's Globe of 



1 the t 

selected by Toscanelli, p. 193; 
places Aniilia too far westward, 

Kublai Khan, sends the Polos as 
ambassadors to Rome, note 20, note 
35 of Appendix A. 

La Cosa, Juan de, was pilot to Colum- 
bus on his first voyage, p. 333. 

LaMPILLaS, Franco is-X a vier, hints 
that the correspondence is not 
genuine, note IS; thinks the Portu- 
guese would not have asked advice 
from the Italians about the Atlantic, 


s Tos- 

>xhr :Ri 

.. 43. 

La Rosa, G. de, states the Letter to 
be apocryphal, note 15; informed 
author no trace of Martins existed 

■ in the Portuguese archives, note 33 ; 
his proposed work, p. 240; reveals 
the circumstances attending Colum- 
bus' Bight from Portugal, p, a6$. 

La Rosa, Simon de, bis share in the 

EX 357 

D'Avezac-Harrisse controversy, p. I J ; 
believes the Imago Mundt was printed 
between 1480 and 1483, note 108; 
thinks Ferdinand Columbus wrote 
the headline to the copy of the 
Letter, note 157; is the best authority 
on the Columbus autography, p. 1 54 ; 
says Bartholomew was a poor Latinist, 
note 163. 
Las CASAS, passim, importance of his 
Hillary of the India, p- 3; ts 
chronicler of legends about Colum- 
bus, p. 4 ; says he got Spanish text 
with other papers of Columbus, p, 
15, note 11; the correspondence 
between Toscanelli and Columbus 
first appeared in his Histitia, which 
was only printed in 1875, pp. 30-31 ; 
his account of the relations between 
Columbus and Tuscanelli, pp. 31 
et leq. ; declares Columbus based 
bis scheme on the Letter, notes 45, 
49; mentions Joseph the Jew, note 
88; reproduces Columbus' system, 
note 99 j his account of the third 
voyage, note 10a ; the authors who 
inspired Columbus, p. 97 ; the story 
of the Pilot, pp. 1 10 11 seq, ; gives no 
date to the story, note 116 ; does not 
give the Pilot's name, note 117; 
thinks he discovered Misp.iniola, 
the Toscanelli Letters 

! from 

, pp. 139 i 

s/q. ; he possessed Bartholomew's 
papers, p. 143 ; his movements, p. 
143-14S ; his connection with the 
forgery discussed, pp. 147 et seq. ; 
his character, p. 156; his suspicious 
silence, p. 157; who gave him the 
forged documents? pp. 161 et uq. ; 
avers he had the Toscanelli Map in 
bis possession, p. 171 ; his descrip- 
tion of it and how he got it, pp. 17JV 
173 ; says he had Toscanelli's Map 
in his hands, p. 178; gives Tos- 
canelli's dimensions of Cipangu, 
p. 301 ; records Columbus' faith in 
the Mup, notes 311*313, pp. 330 
it seq. ; through him alone do we 
know of the Log-book of the first 

3;8 INDEX 

voyage, p. 133 ; variances between 

LORENZO v Leu.. Baldomero, accepts 

his Journal of Columbus and hit 

the Pilot's story, note 139. 

Malaria, pp. 23J il tig., 337 j only 

Lvha. Nicholas de, quoted by Colum- 

knew of the Toscanelli correspond- 

bus, note 95. 

ence in a Spanish translation, p. 147 ; 

returns definitely to Spain in 1547, 

MacCoWN, his r (construction of the 

p. -•; , ; U one of the chief dis- 

1474 map, p. 175. 

seminators of the legend, p. 361; 

Machiavelli, does not mention Tot- 

hides the date of Columbus' birth 

cane Hi's scheme, p. 43. 

id u not to give a clue to certain 

Mainarh, bis Buttarium, note 61. 

events, p. 263 ; through him alone 

MAJOR, his reading of " ha dias," note 

we hear of the letters to the Great 

30 ; his translation of a passage in a 

Khan, p. 166. 

letter of Columbus is defective, note 

Lauhay, Jean de, thinks Imago Mundi 


was printed in 1490, note 108. 

Mandeviixe, Sir John, Columbus 

Lavjgne, Gerraont de, on the identity 

appears to credit him with inspiring 

of Marcbena, note 144. 

his scheme, note 50. 

LeLEWB!., made a reduced reproduc- 

Manfredo Manfred], Duke Hercules 

tion of Doppelmeyr's plan of the 

d'Este's ambassador, makes inquiries 

Globe of Betaaira, note 171, 

about the Toscanelli - Columbus 

LBMOS, Countess of, obtains leave for 

correspondence, note 15, 

d'Ahneida to copy Columbus' MS, 

MANGl, ancient name of a Province of 

on the line of demarcation, note 

China, note IO, pp. 68, 79, note 105 ; 


figures on the Globe of Behaim, p. 

LeTronne, misunderstands a passage 


in the ransuma letter, note 98. 

MaNOEL, King of Portugal, pp. 33, 63. 

LlLtUS, Zaccaria, author of a contem- 
porary geography, yet says nothing 

Map, Columbus' Road, supposed to 

come from Toscanelli, p. 320 ; 

of Toscanelli '3 scheme, p. 43. 

Columbus, however, does not say 

LIMA, Abreu de, accepts the Pilot's 

so, p. in ; his own words, note 3tS ; 

story, note tig. 

it was based on information received 

LoLLlS, Cesare de, his share in the 

from a Pilot, p. 329 ; it showed the 

D'Avesac - Harrisse controversy, p. 

discoveries of the Pilot, and the 

13 ; his treatment of the Italian text, 

coamographical ideas of Columbus, 

p. IS ; avers Toscanelli inspired 

p. 339- 

Columbus, note 14; his view us to 

Map, Toscanelli 's alleged, attempt to 

the date of the correspondence, p. 35 

reconstruct it, p, 178; cartographic 

and note 23 ; affirms Martins went 

sources, pp. 179-187; projection, p. 

to Italy, note 34; his poor opinion 

188 ; spaces, p. 189 ; degrees, p. 

of Columbus, note lot ; suppresses 

193; standard, pp. 193-198; mile, 

certain passages, note 103 ; has re- 

p. 199 ; comes from Marinus of Tyre, 

produced the notes on the Imago 

p. 303 ; could teach nothing to the 

Mundi, note 107 ; thinks Columbus 

Portuguese, p. 317 ; its projection. 

copied the Letter, note 157; thinks 

boundaries, etc., Appendix J. 

the lost work was the original tent 

Maps, Italian maps in Portugal, note 

of Columbus' Journal, note 168 ; 


Peragallo communicates to him 

Marchena, Juan Perei de, is reported 

□"Almeida's letter, note 168; on 

to have advised Columbus, note 141, 

the original MS. of the Hatoru, 

p. 136 ; his identity discussed, note 

note 169. 


Makco Polo, the Toscanelli Letter is 
based an hill account, a copy of which 
was brought to Portugal in 143S, pp. 
33 tt itq, ; describes Quinsay, note 
9; mentions Kubiai Khan's embassy, 
note 10 ; his news about China was 
out of date in 1474, p. 68 ; visited 
China while it was under Mongol 
rule, p. 69, note So, p. 93, note 104 ; 
Columbus gains from him his know- 
ledge of Eastern lands and islands, 
p. 95; his report about the Great 
Khan, note 10;, p. 100 ; Fra Maura 
borrowed from him for his plani- 
sphere, p. 186; from him Columbus 
may have learnt about Cipangu, p. 
241 ; the geographical nomenclature 
of the Letter ia borrowed from him, 

M Ak' ;k v, thinks the imago Afuridi was 

ii ; :cl 11 



e loS. 

Maria de Toledo, mother and 
guardian of Luis Colon, has charge 
of Columbus' papers, pp. 144-145; 
deposits them at San Pablo in 
Seville, 1544. P. i+S; her connection 
with the forgery discussed, pp. 147 tt 
siq.; she confided in Las Casas, p. 
157 ; author exonerates her, pp. 162- 
163, 17*. 

Mariana, tlie story of the Pilot, note 

MarigNolle, Jean de, places Prester 
John in Ethiopia, note 56, 

MaRINI, publishes the Historit in 1571, 
note 169. 

Marinus OF Tyre, his cosmographical 
system, p. 74 ; supplies Columbus 

; Columbus only 01 

Ins 1 

1 the 

Imago Mundi, note 104 ; quoted by 
Ferdinand Columbus, p. 97 ; unlikeli- 
hood of Toscanelli ail optinghis system, 
p.151; sources drawnfromforthemak- 
ing of the Map, pp. 180 tt seq. \ the 
130 degrees of maritime space of the 
Letter and Globe of Behaim come from 

183; 1 

1 the 1 

EX 359 

maritime space consisted of only 135 
degrees, p. [91 ; the Toscanelli Map 
eipresses his conception, pp. 203-4 i 
extends length of habitable world to 
315 degrees, p. 304 ; Bartholomew's 
Map shows Columbus adopted his 
extension of the habitable land, note 
J to, p. 248. 

Markham, Sir Clements, his share in 
the D'Aveiac-Harrisse controversy, 
p, 13; misled by Spanish version, 
p. 16 ; his opinion of the Letters and 
Map, note 14; his reading of "ha 
dias," note 10 ; his view as to the 
date of the correspondence, p. 35, ; 
is misled by the interpolation to the 
Sfiitrt, note 44; thinks Columbus 
accompanied d'Aiambuja. to Guinea, 
notes S3, Hz ; does not find the 
story of the Pilot improbable, note 
135 ; has reproduced Peschel's Map 
p. 175 ; calls the Letter "the Sailing 
Directions of Columbus," p. 133 ; 
bis rendering of the ambiguous 
phrase as to the authorship of (he 
road-mip, note J18 ; gives a wrong 
date for the arrival of Columbus in 
Portugal, p. 304. 

Mart ell us, reckons the unknown 
maritime space at 130 degrees, p. 

Martin, Diego, was Columbus' pilot 
on the third voyage, note 143. 

Martin, Gomalo, accompanied Colum- 
bus on his second voyage, note 143. 

MARTIN, Th. Henri, on the measure- 
ment of the Olympic stadium, notes 
84, 86. 

Martinez, Fernando, Columbus' ser- 
vant, witnessed his will, note 33. 

Martins, Fernam, passim, is supposed 
to have received a letter from Tos- 
canelli, p. 9 ; corresponds with him, 
pp. 33 tt stq. ; original letter has 
disappeared, p. 36 tt itq, ; he is 
unknown 10 Portuguese writers, p. 
38 ; futile effort to identify him 
With Rorii, note 34, p. 93; Las 
Casas first stated Toscanelli corre- 
sponded with him, p. 141 ; the Letter 

360 mi 

to him merely revives [he conception 

of Marina! of Tyre, pp. 204, 105, 

HI, 344. «'«?■ 
Martins, Oliveira, confirms ihe story 

that Dom Pedro brought a copy of 

Marco Polo 10 Portugal, p. 33. 
MARTVNS, Estevam, accompanied 

Alfonso V on his travels, but is not 

Femsni Martins, note 33. 
Mateos, Ilernan Perez, mi in the 

first and second expeditions, note 

MaTHEos, accompanied Columbus, p. 

Maijro, Pie, his planisphere, pp. 1S3 

ttitg. ; hit location of Cipangu, note 

305 ; shows many islands around it, 

Ma VCR, his reproduction of Behaim's 
Globe after Doppelmayr, note I?3. 

Ming Dynasty, destroyed the Mongol 
power in China. 1)68, p. 69. 

MlRANDOLA, Pico della, does not men- 
lion Toscanelli's scheme, p. 43. 

Moi.ETO, in his dedicatory letter to the 
fliitarit gives an account of the 
origin of the MS., note 169, 

Monooi.3, their power in China ended 
in 1368, pp. 68-69; geographical 
denominations, note 65. 

Monthil, Alexis, the Pilot is mentioned 
In his catalogue, note 117. 

Morales, accompanied Columbus, p. 

MOKEI.I 1, Abbe, (ails to correctly ren- 
der a passage in a letter of Columbus, 
note 98. 

MullER, J., executed the Paris copy 
of the Globe of Behaira, note 17a. 

Mllfioz, says Columbus used Tos- 
canelli's Map >s his road-map, p. 

MiJNSTER, describes the kingdom of 
Prestcr John, note $6. 

Murr, Christ. Theoph. von, his plan 
of the Globe of Behaim, note 173. 

Murray, John, his reconstruction of 
the 1474 Map, p. 176. 

Navarrete, his reproduction of the 

Letter, p. 16 ■ his reading of 
dial," note ao ; quotes Columbus* 
opinion as to the smallness of the 
earth, notes 93, 95, 98 ; thinks 
Columbus was guided on the 1491 
voyage by the Letter and Map, p. 
333 ; his rendering of the ambiguous 
phrase as to the authorship of the 
Road-map, note 318 ; the letter of 
Joao II he copied is apocryphal, 
p. 364. 

NEARCHUS, Columbus appeals 
authority, note 99. 

Nicholas V, issues the Bui! of 1454 
granting territorial concessions lo the 
Portuguese, pp. 58 it stf. 

NlfiO, Francisco, was Columbus' pilot 
on the second voyage, note 

Nobdenskioi.d, hi? reprodi 

Doppelmayr's Globe of Behaim, note 

N0S0 oh Portugal, inherits the 

estates, titles, and papers of Colum- 

Odoric de Pordesone, could have 
supplied Toscanelli with later news 
from China than is found in the 
Letter, p. 68. 

OjEDA, accompanied Columbus, p. 130, 

Onesicritus, Columbus appeals to his 
authority, note 99. 

Opitz, makes a reproduction of 
Behaim's Globe after Mullet, 

Orleans, Duke of, may possess p 
that will throw light on the D'Ave 
Harrisse controversy, p. 13. 

O VI EDO, quotation from him e 
ing the meaning of "ha dias," ti 
20; the story of the Pilot, pp. 110 
el seq, ; gives no date (o the story, 
note 116; does not give the Pilot's 
name, note 117; recalled the Pilot 
story in his work published in 1535, 
pp. 166, 337, 350, 371. 

Ol'DIN, quotation from his Tts&r» 
establishing the mean in 

o, records the Discovery, 
bill does not connect Toscanelli with 

it, p. 41. 

PaKETO, his Portolano (l+5j) marks 

Am ilia, p. 306. 
Paris, Comtc de, stated to have hid 

the Latin tent copied before M. 

Harrisse, pp. 11-12. 
Parker, W., his reconstruction of the 

M74 Map, p. 176. 
Pavia, University of, Columbus never 

studied there, pp. 4, 16 3. 
' PAYNE, Toscanelli's influence on Col- 

Pedro, Duke, brings a copy of Marco 
Polo to Portugal, pp. 33 II leq. 

PeragALLo, Prospero, is misled by the 
interpolation to the Sphere, note 44 ; 
communicates d' Almeida's letter to 
de Lollis, note 168. 

Peschel. O., his view as to the date 
of the correspondence, note 33 ; bis 
reconstruction of the 1474 Map, p. 
175 ; points out similarities between 
the Globe and the Letter, pp. 181- 
183 ; placed Aniilia about 45 degrees 
west of Lisbon, p. 306. 

Phisicus. See note 3 of Appendix A. 

Pilot, the, who may have informed 
Columbus, p. 109 ; the story as 
known to us, p. no; contemporary 
authors who mention it, notes III- 
11$; critical examination of the 
sources of the story, pp. 116 tt irq. 

PlNART, renders incorrectly a passage 
in a letter of Columbus, note 98. 

PlNSON, Arias Perez, accompanies 
Columbus, note 143. 

PjMZdN, Juan Martin, his discussion in 
mid-Atlantic with Columbus on 35th 
September, p. 49, note 143 ; thought 
he saw land on 25th September, note 
143; the Crown's view as to his 
share in the expedition, note 150, 
p. 188; is on the look-out for Ci- 
pangu, pp. 309, 3ti ; consults the 
Map, JSth September, pp. 333-3:6; 
thinks he sees land, p. 338; urges 
Columbus to alter the course, note 
334 ; his certainty about the position 

>EX 3°' 

of the islands, pp. 1 31 el stg,; searches 
for the islands on his own account, p. 
233 ; silly story about bis envy of 
Columbus, pp. 334, 339, 341; he 
had no intention of going to the 
Indies, p. 367. 

Pius II. See Mnesa Sylvius. 

Pizarre v Orei.lana, accepts the 
Pilot's story, note 139. 

Pliny, quoted by d'Ailly, note 95 ; 
Columbus thinks he may have learnt 
much from the Romans, note 95 ; 
Columbus appeals to his authority, 
notes 99, 104. 

Plutarch, note 104. 

Poliziano. Angiolo, does not mention 
Toscanelli's scheme, p. 43. 

POSIDOKIttS, his opinion on crossing 
the Atlantic, note 68 ; gives the 
globe's circumference at 180,000 
stadia, p. 73 ; the Atlantic on the 
parallel of Athens, 70,000 stadia, p. 

Prester John, the India over which 
he ruled, pp. 53 it stq; the Portu- 
guese only sought to reach his India, 
p. 247, note 28 of Appendix A. 

Ptolemy, has preserved for us the 
system of Marinus of Tyre, p. 74, 
note 76; was not printed in 1474, 
pp. 76, 79 ; his authority was then 
undisputed, pp. So cl stq. ; his 
measurement of the circumference 
of the globe, note 91 ; Columbus 
says d'Ailly attributed greater 
authority to Aristotle, Seneca, and 
Pliny than to Ptolemy, note 95 ; 
points out the error in the system 
of Marinus of Tyre, p. 89, note 97, 
p. 93 ; through him Columbus learnt 
the system of Marinus, note 104, p. 
151 ; had been several times printed 
before the construction of the Globe 
of Behaim, p. 183 ; bis degree, p. 
193 ; bis standard was 63} miles to 
the degree, p. 197 ; reduced inhabited 
world to 180 degrees, p. 304 ; Bar- 
tholomew's Map shows that Colum- 
bus rejected his view of the globe, 

QuiMSAT (Hu*-Ouu>. note* 7. 9, and 
the Globe of BeUa, p. ll» ; » 
■hem in Ft* Mater* 's planisphere, 
p. Ilj: it called Cuajr on the 
CUaUnMap.pp.tST. 1S9; according 
to the Letter and Map its position 
wx> only J© decrees ■» of Cali- 
fornia, p. KM ; see note* la Appendix 

RANDOM, Cornelia, a said to have 
bought to Dante de Rinaldi Colum- 
bui' letters 10 Toccanelli, note 41. 

RliKAtru, shows Arabs con si d er ed 
India to mean Ethiopia, nous 56, 
■7; say* the Arabs diminished the 

Rlrlt, King, never employed Colum- 

bui, pp. 4 and i6j. 

RlSlNDE, does not mention Tojcanelli, 
p. J7. 

RoHIKTSON. discredits the Pilot's story, 
note ill. 

Rodbigo, said to have compiled the 
solar declension tables, note 88. 

ROQUiTTM, de la, (ails to render 
correctly a passage in a letter of 
Columbus, note 98 ; his rendering 
of the ambiguous phrase as to the 
authorship of the road-map, p. 114. 

Robiz, Fernando, a witness to Car' 
dirud de Cusa's will, has been con- 
founded with Ferret m Marlins, note 

KoseLLY DE LOSGUES, his reading of 
"ha dial," notes 10, 1 14 ; thinks 
Columbus knew the full importance 
of his discovery, p. 11 ;. 

RUBKUQCtS, or Ruisbrock, calls China 
Cathay, note 6 ; visited China during 
the Mongol rule, p. 69. 

Ruge, points out similarities between 
the Globe of Behaim and the Letter 
to Martins, pp. 181-lB) ; publishes 
Opiti's reduction of the Globe of 
Behaim after Mullet, note 1J1 ; his 

degree, p. I 
places Antilia 40 degree* west of 
Lisbon, p. J06 ; position of Cipangu, 
note 105. 

Rtry de Pisa, docs not mention 
Toccanelli, pp. J7-J8 ; says Treaty 
of Alcacovas gave the Portuguese 
the right to conquer Guinea as far 
as the Indies, note 6j ; wrote that 
Columbus had returned from the 
discovery of Cipangu, note sc6. 

RtJYSCH, his map of 1507, p. 17$; 
reckons the unknown maritime space 
at 130 degrees, p. 191 ; his map 
shows Hayti as Cipangu, note 106, 

SaCBO-BOSCO (John Holywoodj, his 
Sp**>» Mxndt, p. 44. note JQ ; 
extracts therefrom, notes 40-41 ; 
remarks on the subject, note 43 ; 
Egnatio Danti's interpolation, p. 46. 

Saint- Mabtin, Vivien de, says yuin- 
say is now Hang-Chan, note 9 ; 
thinks Ptolemy used a conventional 
stadium, note 86 ; thinks the Arabs 
increased the circumference, nole 91 ; 
his map is imitated from Peschel's, 
p. 175 ; makes a reproduction of 
Jomard's representation of the Globe 
of Behaim, note 171. 

Salembier, Abbe, thinks the Imaga 
.'•/** j: was printed about 1 480, note 

San Bran dan, an imaginary island 
in the Atlantic, is replaced by Antilia 
on Jomard's Map, note 198; may 
have figured on the Toscanelli Map, 
p. 117. 

Sanchez, Alonso. believed to be the 
name of the Pilot who informed 
Columbus, pp. 113 rt stf. ; notes 117 
it uq. \ his map was probably the 
road-map of Columbus, pp. 330 it 

Sanguinettj, his reading of " ha 
dias," note bo. 

Santaheu, Fiske supposes Columbus 
accompanied him to Guinea in 1471, 


, says Joseph the Jew and 
Rodrigo compiled (he solar decien- 



SAOMETO ISLAND, probably Croaked 

Island, Columbus visits il, p. 209. 
SCHONER, his globe, note 17*. 
SCHRADER, position of Cipangu, note 


SENECA, his opinion about crossing the 
Atlantic, nole 69, pp, 73-74 j Colum- 
bus thinks he may have learnt much 
from Ca:sar Nero, note 95. 

ShifleY, John B., note received from 
him on the Toscanelli Letter, note 
728 ; his letter to the author on this 
subject, Appendix F. 

Solorzano, accepts the Pilot story, 
note 1 29. 

Spice Trade, proof that it did not 
exist in 1474, pp. 65-66. 

Spices, Land of, see note 6 of Appendix 

SPOTORNO, says Don Luis came to 
Genoa in 1568, nole 169. 

Se'KENGEl, thinks Columbus was 
guided on his 1492 voyage by the 
Letter and Map, p. 223. 

STOCKER, Garcao, says Joseph the Jew 
was a distinguished astronomer, note 

Steabo, his view as to reaching the 
Indies, note 69; adopts the opinion 
that the habitable world embraced a 
third of the total circumference, p. 
73 ; Columbus appeals to his autho- 

rity, 1 


Suuien, Norben, his criticism of the 
Latin text of the Letter, Appendix B 

TarducCI, thinks Columbus was 
guided by the Letter and Map, p. 

Tchoutkts, nomads of the Steppes, 

l, the story of the Pilot, 

EX 363 

Torre do Tombo, contains the 
archives of Portugal, p. 37. 

TOSCANELLI, Paolo dal Poxio, passim, 
is supposed to have written to 
Martins, pp. 9, 11 et stq, ; alleged 
to have suggested sea-route to 
Portuguese earlier than 1474. pp. 
21 et *tq. ; importance of corre- 
spondence if genuine, pp. 27 it stq. ; 
its genuineness has been too easily 
accepted, p. 29 ; is alleged to have 
written to Columbus, p. 30; the 
originals of his letters have dis- 
appeared, p. 36 et seq. ; witnessed 
Cardinal dc Cusa's will, note 34 ; 
bis plan is unknown in Italy, p. 39 
tt stq. \ the correspondence only 
became known on the publication of 
the Historie, 15JI, p. 43; he tells 
Martins the Portuguese are seeking 
the Indies before ever that question 
was raised, pp. 54 et stq, ; the 
mention of the Portuguese spice 
trade in the 1474 Letter is sufficient 
to prove it a forgery, p. 66 ; the 
ignorance displayed in the Letter 
makes it impossible that it could 
have been written by him, pp. 
67 et stq.; the Letter alleges he 
talked with an ambassador from the 
Great Khan, p. 70; the cosmo- 
graphy of the Letter is identical with 
the erroneous system of Marinus of 
Tyre, p. 75 1 he may have seen 
Angelo's translation of Ptolemy, p. 
76 ; reasons against his being the 
author of the Letter, p. 77 ; de Lollia 
attributes Columbus' knowledge to 
him, note IOI ; his correspondence 
hid nothing to do with the genesis of 
Columbus' ideas, pp. 92 et seq., note 
I05; the idea that he taught 
Columbus everything is quite a 
modem one, p. 97 ; the Letters are 
produced by Las Casas alone, pp. 
139 it stq.; he died, 1481, p. 151 ; 
a sketch of a map in the Florentine 
Library attributed to him, pp. 173-4 ; 
his Map is also apocryphal, and 
merely expresses Columbus' cosmo- 

ai »»* awaw 'T". bnb *ita ITAracu U [O Ihc 

; awa one wu teanraf * *■ -a*»e M the degree, 

■i is u-M- p. «S5 ; p. »S*. 

n.a--W^iii-. Vmchkiuos. Samoa de, lie iwaf 

*» ' aaiwasfiw u as Vi2 Docuso. aperjrc* the 66| 

aaiawi b» sevens m4ri p. 196. 

w. aw i Appea- Vbm^R, « 

• tteM^nflk i"»TO Araeri-o, ■ 

ion of hit 
the 66| 


Am T&MMJS ittiMtoj 


1 ,.•* w(s pp. i?w?* : 
.. >M t^waeaain ah*!**. 

■ IMIUJawW i**i da* To*- 

« H da* *.«> 

M74 Map, p. 174; 

p. ITS! his 

<* the 1474 Map. pp. 

XI out that the suniW- 

the Lena and Globe 

the GMa tw*B 

; p. 181-181 ■ 

> copj of the Globe of 
all the positions too 
ast, note 171; thinks 
Hap was on a plane 
'35. 19'; <"■ Tos- 
p. 191; declares 
he baa nerer met with the standard 
of 6;( miiea to the degree, p. 19; ; 
ssggesa the 66f Kaaiard. p. 196 ; 
reckons toe mile at I4S0 metres, p. 
MO ; considers the Map as being the 
earliest graphic expression of the 
ancient idea of the smallnes* of the 
maritime apace, pp. J03-J04 ; places 
Antilia too far westward, p. J06. 
WtSTWAJUB. See note 13, Appendix 

Warn; A, D, his History of the 

that 0* utitraiiiy WmtJ, discovers Bartholomew's 
. ibm twawktd, p. t*S 00tes9S.jo6.Ji0. 



WiNSOR, Toscanelli's influence on 
Columbus, note 14 ; his reading of 
" ha dias," note 20 ; reproduces 
Peschel's Map, p. 175 ; gives a 
wrong date for Columbus' arrival 
in Portugal, p. 264. 

Wytfliet, the story of the Pilot, note 

Ximsnbz, transcribes and annotates 
Italian text, p. 15 ; is attacked by 
Barros e Vasconcellos, note 15 ; his 
reading of " ha dias," note 20 ; first 
detected the interpolation to the 
Sphere, note 44; supposes the 
Portuguese were already interested 

in the spice trade in 1474, note 64 ; 
suggested that the Toscanelli sphere 
consisted of 72 spaces, p. 190. 

Yule, his explanation of Cathay, note 
6 ; of Quinsay, note 9 ; description 
of the changes in China on the fall 
of the Mongol power, note 65. 

ZAYTON (Chang Chau), pp. 25, 69, 79, 
note 7 ; its importance, note 105, 
p. ioo; is not on the Globe of 
Behaim, p. 182 ; is on Fra Mauro's 
planisphere, p. 183 ; and on the 
Catalan Map, p. 187, note 22 of 
Appendix A. 


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